No one wants to be considered a NIMBY. I certainly do not see myself as one. However, it would be irresponsible not to examine the effect of the current flood of legislation that has emerged to address the affordable housing crisis and that legislation’s potential effect on this community.
The proposals are an attempt to reduce the zoning authority of local municipalities and supplant it with statewide development regulations. The general objective is to allow for increased permitted density as infill in established residential areas.
The intention to increase the available affordable housing is laudable. Indeed, to ignore the fact that we are in an affordable housing crisis would be irresponsible. However, the current proposals largely fail to give due consideration to the logic of the existing zoning codes, which are designed to provide and preserve a valued environment and quality of life.
Pacific Palisades is in a designated Very High Fire Hazard Area. In view of the experiences of the Paradise, Woolsey and Camp, wildfires with the devastating loss of life and property, and our recent experience in the Highlands with the Palisades Drive Fire—where the residents were forced to shelter in place—the legislative efforts to eliminate the current restrictions on density and application of CEQA requirements in such areas are inconsistent with protection of the public safety.
Indiscriminately providing density bonuses as an incentive to attain affordable housing ignores the need for supporting infrastructure such as adequate carrying capacity of the roads; services such as schools and hospitals; and space for parks. Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway have long exceeded their ability to accommodate the current auto traffic, leading to extended traffic jams during peak hours.
The unsupported density approvals by City Planning have already had a cumulative effect. The attempt to legislate local planning from Sacramento by statewide mandated regulations voted on by legislators in Northern California or the Imperial Valley does not make good sense and can only exacerbate the situation.
The LA City Planning Department has initiated several development strategies to address these issues: encouraging denser development in the public transportation corridors; enhancement of a public rail transportation system to lessen the traffic pressure on the roads; and the permitting of “Granny Flats” on existing residential properties.
What is needed is further thinking locally to address the affordable housing crisis on a scale that would address the magnitude of the problem. One example would be the scattered site housing projects in New York City, which were considered highly successful in dealing with that city’s housing issues in a similar circumstance.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council and the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club have recommended that our legislators not support the two current Bills SB1085 and SB1120 . Your state legislators Senator Ben Allen and Assemblyman Richard Bloom are interested and have proven to be responsive to the opinion of their constituents. Let them know your wishes on local planning.
President Emeritus Pacific Palisades Democratic Club
Former Commissioner LA City WLA Area Planning Commission
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