The Community Redevelopment Agency approved guidelines Wednesday that would require private developers to construct low- and moderate-income housing to replace residences razed by downtown redevelopment projects.
Under the proposed guidelines, which must be sanctioned by the Los Angeles City Council, private developers would have to erect replacements for at least 30% of the homes torn down in the Central Business District within that area. The other 70% of the new homes could be built elsewhere in Los Angeles.
The downtown district is bounded by the Santa Ana Freeway on the north, the Santa Monica Freeway on the south, Alameda Boulevard on the east and the Harbor Freeway on the west.
CRA officials said they devised the new requirements because the number of low-income dwellings in the downtown area has been reduced in the wake of the agency's Central Business District Redevelopment Project.
"Over the years there have been units removed from the private sector," said Donald R. Spivack, the CRA's director of operations. "In many cases, they were not sites that were going to be developed."
CRA officials said there are no laws requiring private developers to replenish housing although the Central Business District's redevelopment plan stipulates that the CRA replace within five years any low- and moderate-income residences that the agency tears down in the district.
"There (are) no mechanisms in place that would assure that a private developer who simply took down a building that had residential units in it would replace those units," Spivack said. "The only assurance (comes) when there's a substantial amount of CRA participation. Then, the agency would impose its own rules on itself."
The City Council is expected to vote on the new guidelines within the next two months. But a private attorney representing Los Angeles County criticized the proposed regulations.
In a letter written on behalf of the county to CRA officials, attorney Fernando Villa contended that the proposal fails to cover low- and moderate-income residences leveled before the guidelines were fashioned.
"The agency was required to adopt rules to require the replacement of privately removed affordable housing at the outset of such removal," Villa's letter reads. "The failure of the proposed rules to address the loss of this housing is inconsistent with the plan's terms and . . . purpose of preserving all of (the Central Business District's) affordable housing stock."
Spivack said there is no way the agency could make the regulation retroactive and fair simultaneously.
"They are proposed to go into effect whenever they are adopted," he said. " . . . There's no basis upon which there would be the ability to make a regulation like this retroactive. In addition, there's a certain amount of unfairness to change the rules after the fact."
Spivack said lawyers representing the county and the CRA are in a "fact-finding stage" of a yearlong litigation process.
Villa could not be reached for comment.