I Live in Los Angeles. I bought in.
No, I don't normally write about anything that involves politics. Trump lost. I felt relief and exhaustion and moved away from thinking about government for a time. Then I found out what is going on here, in California. And I feel FORCED into action.
We all know about the current "Seller's Market" where we live. In North Hollywood, we are blizzarded by requests. "I will buy your house! CASH! AS IS!"
The thing is I did not buy a house. I invested in a home and a dream and a community. I know my neighbors. When someone is sick on my street, they get their chicken soup and a phone call. Covid screwed us up for a while, but we are back to waving, walking, chatting, connecting.
Mostly what we are talking about is change. Neighbors who get seduced by the idea that there is a cheaper place to be, and that selling is in their best interests. They also have a resigned attitude about Los Angeles: "Nothing you can do. The Developers own this place. It is a shame, but I have to look after my own interests and future."
Well, how can I buck that sentiment? If I were old, and needing retirement money, why not sell, make a boatload and up and move to a cheap state and pay less taxes? This has become a kind of pragmatic attitude that seems to be accepted by many Californians.
But I think a few things are going on here.
We do not have a CLUE about what our tax money is funding. We're in the dark. We gave and supported bonds to help homeless people. But specifically, what is being done with the money? Why does it feel like nothing is getting any better?
On top of this, why are so many structures getting thrown up so quickly? And why is land being filled with concrete? Why is landscaping reduced to a couple of token cacti or three ornamental mini-trees?
Are we supposed to believe that #2 solves #1? How can this be true when the new apartments and condos and homes are twice as expensive?
SB9 is a critical bill that allows developers to build whatever they would like to construct wherever they would like to do it. And until recently I knew NOTHING about this bill. Just this last Wednesday, it cleared with the CA State Legislature.
How can ANYONE believe that cramming people and more and more thrown-up quickly high-rise anonymous looking structures into single-family home historical neighborhoods is good for the environment, the community, the identity and charm of the neighborhood and the future?
This week, my neighbor sold his 1941 tract home to a developer. He was so excited about all of the money he made. I could not share his enthusiasm. Not when I heard that his absolutely gorgeous gigantic tree which shades his house will be felled. Not when I realized the beautiful bird butterfly and bee sanctuary he has created will be destroyed. Not when I thought about how many renters will be moving in and out next door, the parking issues, the noise in construction and our need now to create more privacy gates and hedges. Sure, he made money. Sure,the developers will too. Some might argue that their new properties will increase our home value. Or that I am a NIMBY.
But isn't it ok to fight for the trees, the green space, especially in a drought-ridden city that needs trees
and that used to glorify in back yards, "the third room" where people could relax, take a breath, look at the sky and feel better? Where people could invite their friends and neighbors to sit outside and smell the lavender, the night-blooming jasmine, the grapefruit and orange blossoms?
Why take a small neighborhood in the 91606 that is still dealing with gangs, graffitti and ugly dilapidated apartment buidlings and start a buying craze, overpopulating us with more transiency, uncertainty and even less breathing space?
I am trying to forgive my neighbor/friend, and understand why he did what he did. But deep down, it hurts that he couldn't sell to a family, or to a couple, to someone who would love the land, care for it, and befriend us. I will now have to create a friendly negotiating sort of relationship with the developer, and will have to hope that the people who come and go will be respectful and decent, however long they stay. I will have to find a way, in my recording studio, to put up with construction noise.
But you had better believe I will do what I can to make sure SB9 is not ratified as law. Once this happens, God knows how we will be able to protect our space, privacy, way of life. I am a working class artist who lucked into a house. Many of my fellow musicians were not as lucky and have had to leave.
www.unitedneighbors.net and livablecalifornia.org Two trustworthy sites.
And here is more info on SB9. I am pretty sure you have never even heard about any of this.
SB 9 was passed by an Assembly committee this week after a Bay Area state senator bizarrely touted the bill as exempting HOAs and letting cities impose affordability. Wrong! SB 9, correctly explained here, now moves to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.
On Saturday, two anti-poverty activists, the esteemed Susie Shannon (her Twitter) and Madalyn Barber (in Cal Matters, she defends Black homeownership) will discuss SB 9 and SB 10.
In 2021, the Seven Bad Bills together recreate the divisive SB 50, wiping out Black and Latino homeowner areas, trashing the California Environmental Quality Act, letting cities override voters, destroying affordable housing to build luxury units, and making parking a misery.
We’ll discuss the looming 2021 legislative timeline and strategies for YOU to stop the Bad Bills:
SB 6: (Kill the Mom & Pops) Jettisons city planning to let developers replace business & shopping areas with EVEN MORE luxury apartment blocks.
SB 8: (Blame the Cities) Extends SB 330 by 5 years, to allow only 5 hearings or workshops on divisive projects; ban downzoning, even for parks, unless another area gets upzoned; let density fans sue taxpayers for $10K per unit if a city rejects a project.
SB 9 (Let’s End Homeownership, by Atkins & Wiener) Crushes single-family zoning, a threat to 7M households at all income levels. Allows SIX NOT FOUR units, no garages and no yards, where 1 home stands now. Wiener has called yards “immoral.”
SB 10: (14-Unit Buildings Everywhere, by Wiener) Lets cities allow 14-unit luxury projects in single-family areas and in commercial areas ANDlets cities override land protection laws approved by voters. But only courts can do this!
SB 478:(One-Bedrooms You Can’t Afford, by Wiener) Lets developers destroy multi-unit housing to cram 14 small luxury units on a typical 5,000 sq. ft. lot. Written for well-off Bay Area tech workers, SB 478 will be a high-rent disaster for most others.
AB 1322: (“Voters are Fools”) An absurd and unprecedented plan to let city councils override housing laws approved by voters. Only courts can overturn voters!
AB 1401: (“Just Take the Bus!”) Slashes parking in new buildings. Anti-parking theory, aimed at boosting transit use, had failed well before COVID. This will help nothing.
We ask you to please DONATE to Livable California now. We are small fry fighting destruction of communities. Your help is crucial. So is fair media coverage, like this.
To attend on Sat. June 12, you must RSVP by noon Friday at this link. If you’ve attended before, USE YOUR PREVIOUSLY ASSIGNED ZOOM LINK SENT IN EARLIER EMAILS TO YOU.
We welcome environmental, homeowner, anti-gentrification and community groups. Questions? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.