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Group Offers Affordable Housing Plan

Industry coalition counters L.A. proposal with its own alternative for low-income units.

August 11, 2004|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

A coalition of business groups offered an alternative Tuesday to a controversial proposal that would require housing developers to offer below-market units in Los Angeles.

The proposal, pending before the City Council, has been praised by activists as a tool to increase affordable housing and opposed by developers who argue that it would stunt development by driving up costs.

The ordinance involves what is known as inclusionary zoning and would be mandatory citywide. Developers of five or more rental units would be required to set aside 12% of the units in their projects for low-income households, or 10% of units for participants in Section 8, a federal program that subsidizes the rents of low-income families.

Developers of five or more condominiums and single-family houses would have to earmark 20% to 40% of the units for below-market buyers.

On Tuesday the Central City Assn., Greater Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Building Industry Assn., and a group of local real estate agents and chambers of commerce offered what they called a workable alternative to inclusionary zoning.

Ray Pearl, executive officer of the building group's local chapter, said the coalition's plan established a goal of 100,000 new housing units in the city, divided equally among each of the 15 councilmanic districts.

In each district, the city Planning Department, working with neighborhood representatives and that council member's office, would create multiple "housing incentive zones" where new units would be built, he said.

Developers would then be offered incentives to include affordable housing in these zones. Pearl said the incentives might include relaxation of existing density and height limitations or easing of requirements for parking spaces.

Pearl said added tax revenues from the new units would be spent within the districts where the units were built.

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