Housing Advocates Against Affordable Housing?

As Ethan reported yesterday, AB 710, the innovative parking reform bill sponsored by the California Infill Builders Association, may not be dead, but it’s not in great shape, either.  Ethan blames the local government lobby for this, and that makes sense.  But there are some strange bedfellows here.

Take a look at the list of the opponents of the bill.  It reads like an all-star team of affordable housing and economic justice advocates: LAANE, California Affordable Housing Law Project, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Bus Riders Union, LA Voice PICO, Public Counsel Law Center, Venice Community Housing Corporation, etc.

This is beyond strange.  AB 710 would reduce costs for infill developers, which would make housing more affordable.  What gives?

Apparently, the housing advocates’ argument is two-fold.  First, without excessive parking requirements, cities will not be able to bargain them away in exchange for inclusionary requirements.  Second, by promoting infill development, AB 710 would promote gentrification.

If these are indeed these organizations’ arguments, they are unpersuasive.  I know of no instance where municipalities have traded inclusionary requirements for reduced parking, and the housing advocates provided no examples for legislative bill analysts.  In any event, such a trade might now be illegal, in light of the Court of Appeal’s truly horrific decision equating inclusionary zoning with rent control.  As for the gentrification argument, it’s hard to accept: the bill explicitly mandates no net loss of low-income units and exempts from its scope any areas where covenants or ordinances preserve low-income housing.

The affordable housing advocates’ opposition could be making a real difference.  Democrats who might otherwise support infill development might vote no after seeing the opposition, and Democrats who don’t like the bill anyway now have an official excuse.  Most Republicans seem to oppose the bill anyway: their free-market ideology usually conveniently goes out the window when it comes to protecting regulations they like.  (Getting the roll call tally is hard, so this assessment might change somewhat.).

I’m going to dig into this one a little more: there could be a backstory that I’m not getting.  But for now, this appears to be an exhibit for an aphorism a conservative friend of mine once told me: “the Left will eat its own.”

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “Housing Advocates Against Affordable Housing?”

  1. I worked on 5 infill development projects reasonably near rail transit in L.A. Trust me, they were all about glitz (not low-income housing). Elevated pool decks, gyms, and electronic display advertising, as big as can be, built into the plans.

    The lucky recipients of the very few low income units should get adequate parking included in their rent so they can store their cars (yes, many poor families in L.A. have cars, treasured cars) while they use their subsidized transit passes to go to work (or wherever). To leave out parking would be to force them to play a game very much like the alternate side of the street parking game in Uptown Manhattan, which is basically a game for people who can afford to live Uptown (or their help). Enough people are playing such a game in L.A. already, to avoid some very expensive “street cleaning” tickets, in neighborhoods nowhere near as nice as Uptown.

    Anyway, since when is reducing costs for any developers (you think that guarantees low housing prices?) really honestly a concern for any faction of the auto-ravenous left? If you let developers build without parking, you better damn well reduce the cap on low income housing prices enough to cover safe parking nearby. And then add security patrols for the walk to and from (the gestalt here looks like ‘once again throwing poor people out into the streets’).

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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