Viewpoints & Ideas is where Eastsider readers can express their opinions, start a conversation and share ideas on neighborhood issues, problems and potential. The Eastsider published an opinion piece against Measure S earlier this week.
By ELENA POPP
The election on March 7 is about bringing the power back to the people. We have seen a steady and constant dwindling of the power slipping out of the hands of the people into the hands of developers, lobbyists and the monied elite in the City of Los Angeles. Measure S returns power back to residents.
This cabal of developers has time and again persuaded our city leaders to give them free rein over where and what they can build, turning a deaf ear to what residents of neighborhoods across the city want.
Measure S will help save our neighborhoods by forcing City Hall to update the General Plan and our Community plans, and creating more transparency in the process of approving developments. This includes requiring all environmental impact reports be done by independent reviewers, not by the developers themselves.
My 35-year career as a housing attorney has been devoted to eliminating poverty in low-income communities.
As a child of an immigrant mother from Mexico, I understand the plight of low-income individuals seeking affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and environmentally healthy conditions. I understand the struggle of people fighting for housing justice and against condominium conversion or abuse of the Ellis Act.
Our communities in the Northeast and Eastside of the City have been especially adversely hit by gentrification of neighborhoods, and the loss of affordable housing because of development that doesn’t suit the needs of long-term residents.
It is unconscionable that the City allows developers to come into our neighborhoods and force people out of their rent-stabilized homes promising that they are going to build “affordable” housing. It is unconscionable that city officials are oblivious to the impact that large developments have in driving rental rates up in the surrounding neighborhoods leading to harassment of long-term tenants and eventual displacement.
The cost of a Rent Stabilized Occupancy is around $400,000. To tear these down with the promise of putting up affordable housing is just not feasible. The city cannot figure out how to make it economically viable to keep the rents at the same rate that the original RSO costs. The proposals just don’t make sense. People are being pushed out by gentrification — density does not equate with affordability.
In fact, in the last year, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases that go to trial.In 2014 and 2015, 1 percent of the Eviction Defense Network’s caseload went to trial; 82% of our current caseload is going to trial because even short-term rent controlled tenants are in substantially below market rate units and because tenants realize that displacement from their units means displacement not just from the City but from the County of Los Angeles.
The LA City Council and mayor have time and again proven that they are unable to reconcile development without the displacement of hundreds of individuals. Mass eviction and harassment by owners and landlords under the current conditions of outdated General Plan and Community Plans has left our community out of the planning process.
Measure S will rein in unbridled greed, start the process of fixing our broken and rigged planning system, and hold our elected officials at City Hall accountable.
60-70K evictions are filed in Los Angeles every year. Every day my staff and I struggle to stop displacement. Measure S is essential to our efforts to maintain the racial and social and economic diversity of our amazing city.
Elena Popp, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Network, is a resident of Lincoln Heights and a supporter and volunteer of Measure S
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