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Old 01-16-2013, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,136,442 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Agree that property taxes are an issue - but again, we should never hold back cities for the sake of preserving people in place. Instead, we should develop much more sensible tax policies that doesn't punish people living on a fixed income.

That being said, I rarely find that the neighborhood groups add anything constructive. They make random demands to satisfy the most strident old biddies who have the most time to devote. They always overestimate the negative impacts of a particular project and never envision the positive ones. Everything is always too tall, too little parking, removes too many trees, is too close to the street, has too many residents. For every unit they win in affordable housing they kill 10 market rate units in height limitations, FAR restrictions, parking requirements, set backs, and other regulations. Many many projects never get out of the design phase because it simply isn't worth the years and years you will have to do battle.

A developer today not only has to have a vision for a successful project and the wherewithal to carry it off, they must have an appetite for endless debate, a infinitely patient banker, and have really deep pockets.

Now, should every project get approved? Of course not - but the process could be infinitely simpler by developing a form based sensible codes - have the battle one time and then allow the city to evolve without an unnecessary battle over each and every project.
Or you know, they are just out for their own financial gain under the guise of "protecting the neighborhood": Leaked Settlement Shows How NIMBYs "Greenmail" Developers - Fun With CEQA - Curbed LA

Two of the most despicable people in Los Angeles - and that's saying something!
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:05 AM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,722,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
Or you know, they are just out for their own financial gain under the guise of "protecting the neighborhood": Leaked Settlement Shows How NIMBYs "Greenmail" Developers - Fun With CEQA - Curbed LA

Two of the most despicable people in Los Angeles - and that's saying something!
Yeah, it's not surprising that stuff like this happens when the power to hold up or prohibit development from occurring is so readily doled out by civic leaders.

I should say that the above board settlements (e.g. you can develop to 80' if you pay a million in park improvements and 10% of the units are affordable) is also a form of blackmail - it's just sanctified black mail.

What's galling about it is - it's frequently in the cities best interest to create the kind of density a developer might want - but we hold them hostage anyway (Yes - we want you to build vertically and included mixed use options on ground floor - but if you want to do that - we'll hold a gun to your head and ask you to pony up.)
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,136,442 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Yeah, it's not surprising that stuff like this happens when the power to hold up or prohibit development from occurring is so readily doled out by civic leaders.

I should say that the above board settlements (e.g. you can develop to 80' if you pay a million in park improvements and 10% of the units are affordable) is also a form of blackmail - it's just sanctified black mail.

What's galling about it is - it's frequently in the cities best interest to create the kind of density a developer might want - but we hold them hostage anyway (Yes - we want you to build vertically and included mixed use options on ground floor - but if you want to do that - we'll hold a gun to your head and ask you to pony up.)
I don't have a problem with density bonuses and those kinds of things. For example, AEG wants to build a football stadium in DTLA, adjacent to Pico-Union which is a very low income "gateway" neighborhood that is most likely 90 percent Hispanic (mostly Central American). That neighborhood council fought to make sure the neighborhood wasn't leveled to make way for parking or luxury hotels, plus a handful of other consolations - it was generally praised from all sides. I believe USC made similar consolations for its surrounding neighborhood of Jefferson Park for a redevelopment.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:40 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,722,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
I don't have a problem with density bonuses and those kinds of things. For example, AEG wants to build a football stadium in DTLA, adjacent to Pico-Union which is a very low income "gateway" neighborhood that is most likely 90 percent Hispanic (mostly Central American). That neighborhood council fought to make sure the neighborhood wasn't leveled to make way for parking or luxury hotels, plus a handful of other consolations - it was generally praised from all sides. I believe USC made similar consolations for its surrounding neighborhood of Jefferson Park for a redevelopment.
Yeah, I pretty much object to these kinds of programs on principal. The city here has stated it wants VMU development in the urban core. Fine. Then shouldn't our policies be to encourage rather than discourage that kind of development? Does it make sense that a developer comes in and says, I can build to 60ft with a 6:1 FAR under existing rules now - but I want to build to 240' with a 25:1 FAR and the city wants that too but gets to force the developer to make "concessions" to build the very kind of development that should be happening.

The density bonus programs are a way of formalizing the process that use to be ad hoc (well, we won't oppose you on this if you give us that) and in that respect, it's good. You know what you are in for. But it makes me a little crazy when the city and the developer interests are aligned, and the city still makes them give up a pound of flesh, and, that doesn't stop the neighborhood groups from getting their pound of flesh too. We ought to be able to come up with a code that makes sense for the city - have the debate once - and then let the city evolve.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,136,442 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Yeah, I pretty much object to these kinds of programs on principal. The city here has stated it wants VMU development in the urban core. Fine. Then shouldn't our policies be to encourage rather than discourage that kind of development? Does it make sense that a developer comes in and says, I can build to 60ft with a 6:1 FAR under existing rules now - but I want to build to 240' with a 25:1 FAR and the city wants that too but gets to force the developer to make "concessions" to build the very kind of development that should be happening.

The density bonus programs are a way of formalizing the process that use to be ad hoc (well, we won't oppose you on this if you give us that) and in that respect, it's good. You know what you are in for. But it makes me a little crazy when the city and the developer interests are aligned, and the city still makes them give up a pound of flesh, and, that doesn't stop the neighborhood groups from getting their pound of flesh too. We ought to be able to come up with a code that makes sense for the city - have the debate once - and then let the city evolve.
I am of the belief that neighborhoods need a decent mix of incomes to be as efficient as possible - it is very helpful to have a proportionate amount of low-to-moderate income residents in the neighborhood to work in the low-paying jobs that are vital to a vibrant community.

You can probably relate, being in Austin, that when too many people commute to and from job centers from outlying areas, it causes massive congestion. This is precisely why the Westside of Los Angeles is probably one of the worst places to drive in the country, freeway or on surface streets. There are an incredible number of people commuting into jobs from great distances because they cannot afford to live in the market rate luxury apartments located there. There are some working class neighborhoods but they are few and far between and have a shortfall of units to meet the demand. So in that way it is helpful to force the developers (whom I think you give way to much trust) to provide these concessions in order to improve the city as a whole. Cities like LA and Austin can learn from previous cities mistakes and avoid being a place which only the rich can live and the middle and working class has to commute into for employment.

One really cool device Los Angeles is using to increase the number of affordable units is the Small Lots Ordinance, which allows a series of detached homes to be built on one lot - sort of a townhouse and perhaps what you could call Los Angeles' first rowhomes.

Small Lot Subdivision Architect | Los Angeles
http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_...ouse176354.pdf
Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance : Curbed LA
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:30 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,722,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
I am of the belief that neighborhoods need a decent mix of incomes to be as efficient as possible - it is very helpful to have a proportionate amount of low-to-moderate income residents in the neighborhood to work in the low-paying jobs that are vital to a vibrant community.

You can probably relate, being in Austin, that when too many people commute to and from job centers from outlying areas, it causes massive congestion. This is precisely why the Westside of Los Angeles is probably one of the worst places to drive in the country, freeway or on surface streets. There are an incredible number of people commuting into jobs from great distances because they cannot afford to live in the market rate luxury apartments located there. There are some working class neighborhoods but they are few and far between and have a shortfall of units to meet the demand. So in that way it is helpful to force the developers (whom I think you give way to much trust) to provide these concessions in order to improve the city as a whole. Cities like LA and Austin can learn from previous cities mistakes and avoid being a place which only the rich can live and the middle and working class has to commute into for employment.

One really cool device Los Angeles is using to increase the number of affordable units is the Small Lots Ordinance, which allows a series of detached homes to be built on one lot - sort of a townhouse and perhaps what you could call Los Angeles' first rowhomes.

Small Lot Subdivision Architect | Los Angeles
http://cityplanning.lacity.org/Code_...ouse176354.pdf
Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance : Curbed LA
I am a huge fan of row homes and smaller lot development and think this is a much better solution to affordability. I absolutely appreciate the need and desirability for housing at different price points.

The problem is that the affordable housing initiatives always amount to a handful of units and are really a bandaid on an axe wound. What needs to occur is, as you pointed out, a variety of housing options including multi family mixed use, small lot developments, town homes, granny flats, duplexes, four plexes and the like. Unfortunately the neighborhood groups are resistant to these kinds of changes and cause the house shortages in the first place that drive up housing costs for everyone.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:14 PM
 
1,015 posts, read 1,544,696 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
I am a huge fan of row homes and smaller lot development and think this is a much better solution to affordability. I absolutely appreciate the need and desirability for housing at different price points.

The problem is that the affordable housing initiatives always amount to a handful of units and are really a bandaid on an axe wound. What needs to occur is, as you pointed out, a variety of housing options including multi family mixed use, small lot developments, town homes, granny flats, duplexes, four plexes and the like. Unfortunately the neighborhood groups are resistant to these kinds of changes and cause the house shortages in the first place that drive up housing costs for everyone.
Interesting discussion, of a kind which goes on many places. There's a new specific for an area near Los Angeles Chinatown which has no minimum parking requirement. Yeah, I say, but some of the advocates there wanted a parking requirement so they could bargain it away for more affordable housing.

The core issue is that you can't solve the affordable housing problem with market rate housing. The market rate housing in a strong market city itself will almost never be affordable under any meaningful definition of the term. Inclusionary zoning, mandating affordable units with the market rate housing, is good. But at most that will get you 20% of the units, and 10-15% is more typical.

It needs buildings that are 100% affordable or close to it. Existing buildings need to be purchased by non-profits (or public entities) and regulated so that they remain affordable. New affordable buildings need to be built. In the absence of measures like these the question pretty much becomes "how quickly will existing residents be displaced." I'm for the kind of housing additions you mentioned, but without a strong affordable housing effort they'll rarely be enough to prevent displacement.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:35 PM
 
Location: SoCal
1,243 posts, read 1,573,858 times
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IMO Density is one half of the equation. Once the density is there, you'll need things at the street level for those people to do. Without those amenities all those people will stay inside! Thus you'll never get to see the density lol That's what makes Manhattan so awesome. It's acheived a nearly perfect mix. Now, NYC still has those massive housing projects that stack people on top of each other which to me seems to go against everything that makes high density vibrant.

If you ask me, Paris is the perfect example of how to do it right.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:26 PM
 
Location: Here.
13,924 posts, read 12,669,302 times
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I agree with the author. Creating density and expecting people to want to live there is like putting the cart before the horse.
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