LOS ANGELES – Mayor Karen Bass signed an executive directive Friday aiming to maximize the use of city-owned property for housing.
Bass’ latest directive comes after the community spoke out against the council voting in favor of using city-owned land, that once housed a library, to build a hotel near USC.
Bass’ protégé, District 8 Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who has ascended to chair of the city’s powerful PLUM committee supported the building of the hotel over housing. He spoke of his priorities in 2019 with the Planning Report.
“There is no greater priority than making sure we have adequate housing for the people that share this city with us,” said Harris-Dawson.
This is the third executive directive that Bass has issued since taking office attempting to address the city’s homelessness crisis, over which she declared a state of emergency as her first official act.
The directive seeks a report within 20 days of a list of all city- owned properties that are vacant, surplus or underutilized. Mercedes Marquez, the mayor’s chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions, will then assess each site’s potential to be used as housing or shelter for unhoused people. Within 30 days of that assessment, Bass’ office will begin designating sites where new housing would be available.
The directive also exempts housing built on such sites from certain city code regulations, and it also waives site plan review and approvals, as well as minimum parking requirements, for temporary or permanent housing with on-site supportive services.
“I am making sure that the city of Los Angeles holds nothing back when it comes to bringing people inside and providing them with the support they need to stay inside for good,” Bass said. “To save lives, restore our neighborhoods and house Angelenos immediately, we must urgently prioritize underutilized existing city-owned property.”
Bass’ first two executive directives aimed to streamline the process for approval of affordable housing projects and launched a program seeking to bring residents of encampments indoors.
Whether to continue the state of emergency — which must be ratified by the City Council every month — will be evaluated by several indicators of progress, including the number of encampments and housing placements, and how much more flexibility city departments are allowed through the declaration.
There are an estimated 41,980 unhoused people in the city of Los Angeles, up 1.7% from 2020, according to the latest count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.