As government officials prepare to release the official 2019 homeless count for Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 4th, housing justice and homeless advocates with Housing Is A Human Right,Healthy Housing Foundation by AHF, Coalition to Preserve L.A. and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) continue their scorched earth criticism of L.A. elected officials’ bald-faced greed and ineffectual response to the metastasizing and intertwined homelessness and affordable housing crises in Los Angeles.

Today’s focus is the ‘pay-to-play’ culture found at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s scandal-tinged City Hall, which earlier this week demonstrated it lacked the vision—and spine—when the city council refused to institute any sort of ban or restriction on campaign contributions from real estate stakeholders and developers.

Among many Angelenos, there is a widespread perception that developers wield undue influence in City Hall with campaign contributions and ‘behested payments’ made to pet charities or causes of councilmembers. The cash contributes to the perception—and possible reality—of ‘quid pro quo’, that developer projects may be getting fast track approval, zoning variance approvals and exceptions granted.

Two recent back scratching, developer-friendly actions: L.A. City Council’s recent unanimous (14-0) vote to approve a 725-unit Chinatown project by Atlas Capital Group with NO affordable units. Councilman Gil Cedillo (First District) even overrode some Garcetti-appointed planning commission members’ recommendation that 37 units be set aside as affordable for very low-income tenants. This, as over 53,000 remain homeless on L.A. streets and City Council seems bent on perpetuating developer-friendly policies that lead to gentrification, tenant evictions and additional city residents forced into homelessness.

Second, again, Councilman Cedillo, tag-teaming with his fellow visionary Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (13th District) last week sought to grandfather and exempt a single development project by La Terra Development, LLC to avoid requiring just six additional affordable housing units—30 up from 24 units—in a 150-unit Hollywood project.

“The fact that Councilmembers Cedillo and O’Farrell would stake their credibility and reputations as public servants on this shows just how entrenched and myopic public officials may be in their fealty to private business over public good,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF. “City Council would be wise to veto this latest developer exception. As for the developer, given both the robust profit margins developers extract and the oversupply of luxury and market rate units in Los Angeles, if La Terra Development is unable to make this project ‘pencil out’ with the six additional affordable units, they need a sharper pencil … or perhaps they are in the wrong business.”

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