September 27, 2023
At the end of last year, Mayor Karen Bass issued Executive Directive 1 (ED1), which created a streamlined process for 100% affordable housing projects to speed up planning approvals in light of the homelessness crisis. The City has no discretion over ED1 projects, meaning they are automatically approved with no public hearings or community input. Nor are these projects appealable.
Months later, the Planning Department realized that ED1 did not explicitly say it was meant to be applied to only areas zoned for apartments. A handful of developers took advantage of this ambiguity and submitted large scale affordable housing projects on single family zoned lots in single family neighborhoods. The Mayor’s office has made clear that her intent was not to enable these projects in single family areas. While the Mayor has now changed her directive to ensure that it explicitly does not include single family home lots, eight projects were submitted before she clarified her order. Once the intent was made clear, those 8 projects were taken off the fast track enabled by ED1. So far, the developers for 3 of these projects have appealed the City’s decision to have them follow a different process. Unfortunately, the brunt of the impact is affecting several of our communities (District 3) and I want to be clear with you about what is happening.
ED1 does not require any notice to neighbors for these projects which is why you may be hearing about this issue now for the first time. One of the projects is located at 8217 Winnetka and is a 7-story building slated for 330 units. This is far out of scale for this location and I will not support this project as proposed. This project has been appealed and the appeal will be heard at the Planning and Land Use Committee next week.
In fact, five out of the eight properties in question are located in the northern part of CD3, specifically Reseda, Winnetka, and Canoga Park.
Yesterday the first appeal from the eight cases was heard by the LA City Council. A 200 unit, 100 percent affordable apartment building which was proposed in Sherman Oaks (Councilmember Raman’s district) and had their Councilmember’s support. During the discussion, I made the case that these projects on single family lots should have some opportunity for environmental review and community input in light of the Mayor’s intent that they not be covered by the ED1 streamlining. During the discussion, I tried to require these projects to follow a normal application process by denying the appeal.
Against my legal and policy objections, the Council voted against my motion that simply would have made these proposals go through the normal planning process and still fulfill the actual intent of ED1. Large scale apartments should not be wedged in-between single family homes, especially when there is no guarantee from developers that any mitigation efforts like new traffic lights or improved sidewalks will follow such construction. Despite my objections, the Sherman Oaks project was given the go ahead to be built by a majority of the City Council. Unfortunately only four members of the City Council agreed with my position, and the appeals for the remaining six properties are still to come.
I will continue to search for creative ways to make sure that these projects follow a clear set of rules, which is what ED1 intended. And to be clear- I am in favor of ED1, just not rubber stamping large apartment buildings in single family home neighborhoods where they radically change communities. The decision today simply sets a dangerous precedent that unfairly impacts the West Valley.
The 8217 Winnetka project seeking approval under this order will be coming to the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee next week on October 3. The other proposed projects are located at 7745 Wilbur, 7947 Wilbur, 19448 Saticoy and 8550 Variel.
Residents are encouraged to submit a public comment to the PLUM Committee if you are concerned about the precedent set here or the construction of large scale apartment buildings in areas that are primarily single family homes
Right now we are at an inflection point and your thoughts are needed to guide the City forward.
I am following these cases very closely and the peace and safety of the neighborhood is of utmost importance to me. It is my distinct honor and privilege to serve as your representative on the Los Angeles City Council. Serving you and providing the highest level of constituent service is my top priority. My staff and I always strive to resolve issues and concerns as quickly as possible. Your engagement in identifying and solving problems is a key component of improving the quality of life in the San Fernando Valley. Please contact my Planning Director, Elizabeth Ene, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions or concerns.
City of Los Angeles