Sunday, August 12, 2007

LA TIMES catches-up on Zuma Dogg's Past Year of Blogging and Comments on LA's Plan For More Denisty Around The Same Already-Over-Taxed Infrastructure

Anonymous blogger said…”But remember, the reason that the big boys like Broad, Witte/Related Cos. are looking for more funding, is because the City Council, moved by the liberal faction, is requiring them all to build the 15% affordable housing, which eats into their costs and revenues”. (August 12, 2007 2:01 AM)

Oh no…someone is very mis-informed, blaming affordable housing on the reason why the crybaby billionaires try and muscle the city into providing them more and more subsidies and tax-breaks at the expense of the general fund and general services. I think the City has had enough and Zuma Dogg hopes all Neighborhood Councils in the Valley send a message to City Hall that enough is enough and start discussing how you can tie a tourniquet around this shady wound before your whole community bleeds out. I would focus on the word “succession”.

LA Times catches-ups on ZD’s reporting:

From Good signs downtown, but vision still lacking
by Steve Lopez
August 12, 2007

I like much of what I see. And with all this commerce and more to come, the potential benefits to the rest of the city (from shared tax revenue) and to the whole region (from new attractions around Staples Center and on Grand Avenue) are huge.

But there's just as much potential for disaster. Pardon me for popping a few party balloons, but somebody has to.

In typical L.A. fashion, mega-developments and the redrawing of the skyline are underway with little in the way of long-term vision or planning. It's the same old let's-try-this-and-see-what-happens approach, with developers in the driver's seat.

Although public officials and the media spun last week's downtown zoning changes as a boon for desperately needed affordable housing, there is in fact no requirement that a single such unit be built -- there are merely incentives that developers may or may not choose to take advantage of.

As usual, the impact on traffic was not a consideration in any of this. Nor is anyone admitting that downtown will scare most people away until there's a commitment to build, and scatter across the region, enough supportive housing to clean up skid row once and for all.

Beth Steckler of Livable Places would like to see little nooks and alcoves of downtown turned into miniature parks. To spur creativity, her public policy nonprofit is sponsoring a Sept. 21 campaign to convert areas as small as parking spaces into mini-parks (more information is at

"The city can get caught up in big plans and forget how much can be accomplished with little things. Look at all the little tiny 5,000-square-foot parking lots. The city could be buying those up and building parks, because those are the ones that people love -- the small neighborhood park that's built on a smaller scale."

[I like that idea Beth! ZD said..."Create zones and let the good times roll. Like we build affordable housing, how about affordable retail space? More Farmers market style areas, and rows of narrowly divided retail slots like in the wholesale area, or along the venice boardwalk. Take some parking lot space that these owners are holding until they can develop, and put some flea markets there." (8/9/07)]

Bill Witte, the Related Cos. chief who's in charge of that project, told me he plans to lobby the state for enough additional funding, on top of the budgeted $50 million in local funds, so there's a chance to build one of the great public spaces of the world.

I bet he's going to lobby for additional state funding. I can think of no finer project that needs more public money than these billionaire boys club projects. We should pour even more money into THIS specific project, instead of having it go to another area of the city that doesn't already have $50 million in local funds. Is building "one of the great public spaces of the world” really one of the problems plaguing the city that needs this much public money thrown at it. I mean, you're talking about "space". Do we really need billionaire quality luxury "space", when we can't deal with all the problems surrounding this tranquil five start luxury "space".

From latimes:com Why the rush to Manhattanize L.A.?
There seems to be little public debate about the dramatic remaking of Los Angeles into a left-coast New York.

By Joel Kotkin
August 12, 2007
[Always a good sign when you see JK in LAT!]

And there's billionaire Phil Anschutz's plan to create a Times Square for Los Angeles near Staples Center, as well as billionaire Eli Broad's aim to duplicate New York's 5th Avenue along Grand Avenue.

Today, small developers, who often had local supporters, are out, and citywide and
national players are in. Prime examples are New York-based Related Cos. (Grand Avenue), Anschutz Entertainment Group (L.A. Live), JMB Realty (condo towers in Century City), Astani Enterprises (downtown condos), J.H. Snyder Co. (NoHo Commons), as well as the shopping-mall giant Westfield, which has proposed building in the west Valley what would be one of the largest malls in Southern California.

These companies, along with other developers, have become substantial contributors to the campaigns and causes of local politicians. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign to control the L.A. Unified School District, for instance, was a recent beneficiary. Because it was an issue campaign (rather than a political race), there were no limits on contributions, and many big developers with projects pending or already underway in the city were generous in their giving.

For example, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) gave $125,000 to the mayor's Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability, set up to lobby for a bill that would have given him significant control over L.A. Unified, and to Partnership for Better Schools, which spearheaded Villaraigosa's successful drive to win a majority on the school board. Other contributors to the two committees included developer J.H. Snyder Co. ($100,000); AP Properties, a JMB Realty affiliate ($100,000); Astani Enterprises ($100,000) and Westfield ($100,000).

For instance, not only did council members vote 12 to 0 on last week's zoning overhaul, but earlier this year, the vote to lease public land and grant about $66 million in tax breaks over 20 years to the developer of the Grand Avenue project was 13 to 0 by the City Council and 4 to 1 by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. And in 2005, AEG received $270 million in financial help from the city for L.A. Live. The vote: 14 to 0.

LA TIMES article on Some say larger, denser projects will help ease L.A.'s housing crunch. Others say they will burden an already taxed infrastructure and displace the poor.

(If my blogging, TV 35 comments and radio calls (over the past year) on this issue came out now, after this article -- everyone would be accusing me of a simply copying them. That's cool though, it appears as though they have seen the dark cloud of doom City Hall is casting over the city, and it appears they have now seen the light. (Hope it lasts!)

LA TIMES article on New ordinance will allow denser, larger residential buildings. Some worry that affordable-housing incentives won't work.

More at Zuma Times blog

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