The Councilman’s Big Plan

2015

The Coalition to Protect Lincoln Heights exists to guarantee that the community has a say in planning its future!

In late August of 2015, in response to the growing housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, a series of proposals were generated by the Los Angeles city council to address the situation.

One proposal, Council File 15-1007, called for an investigation into city-owned property as potential sites for housing development. Councilman Cedillo authored the original motion to do this.

Many of these different housing proposals and ideas were grouped together and passed by the city council in February of 2016 under the name “Comprehensive Homeless Strategy” (Council File: 15-1138-S1).

The idea to convert city-owned land into housing, including five city-owned parking in Lincoln Heights, came to be called the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites (AHOS) plan. This plan is part of the City of Los Angeles’ Comprehensive Homeless Strategy.

2016, July

A survey of city-owned property was done and a list of 12 city-owned properties were identified for development. A list of pre-qualified developers was also prepared. The office of the City Administrative Officer (CAO) prepared the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites plan [PDF, 1.5 MB], listing the specifics for each site and requested development proposals from the developers. The plan was released on July 25, 2016 for developers to examine. Site tours for developers took place in mid-August of 2016. Developers were given until August 23, 2016 to submit technical questions. Developers had until September 15, 2016 at 4 p.m. to submit their proposals, with potential interviews with developers and input from the city council and the mayor to be completed at the end of October 2016.

2016, October

Lincoln Heights wakes up in late 2016 to discover five public parking lots are to be sold and developed.

The community of Lincoln Heights was first made aware that five parking lots in our historic North Broadway business district were set to be developed into housing projects on October 16, 2016 via a press conference in one of them. At the time, with a local municipal election looming in March of the next year, and a proposition called the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII) on the ballot that would have made city planning changes more difficult, Councilman Cedillo used the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites (AHOS) plan to bolster his image and to speak out against the NII.

After the press conference, rumors began to swirl in Lincoln Heights.

Business owners use these lots for employee and customer parking – if housing is going there, what will happen to the parking they use?

Local residents also began to worry. Homelessness has increased steadily in Los Angeles for the past 4 to 5 years, and the signs were all over the neighborhood: people passed out on street corners on (or under bus benches) on North Broadway; park bathrooms being used as shelter; encampments in city parks; encampments under, on, or alongside every local bridge; RV’s with occupants parked alone or in clusters all over the neighborhood; human waste on sidewalks, in every alley, and in bushes on public and private property. Many in the community asked, “The city wants us to house more homeless people in our neighborhood?!”

With few accurate answers coming from Councilman Cedillo’s office, and the municipal election in March of 2017 looming ever closer, community sentiment against the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites (AHOS) plan grew stronger.

2016, November

The LA Times broke the news on November 17, 2016 (“L.A. narrows list of developers for upcoming homeless-housing projects” by Doug Jones) that GTM Holdings and WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services) had won exclusive negotiating rights for the five parking lots in Lincoln Heights.

The recommendations by the City Administrative Officer were outlined in an inter-departmental memo [PDF, 653 KB] released by the LA Times.

2016, December

Neighbors and other interested parties in Lincoln Heights still had not had any clear communication about the projects.

Under pressure to keep his pledge to support affordable housing, and appear to be moved by community sentiment, Councilman Cedillo introduced a motion in council to stall for time. His council motion on December 14, 2016 (Council File: 16-0600-S145) removed the five Lincoln Heights parking lots from the AHOS plan and directed the City Administrative Office to prepare a nearly identical plan for developers to re-bid on those very same parking lots.

Confusion, anger, and frustration in the Lincoln Heights community continued to boil – were the lots going to be developed or not? What kind of housing would it be? What would it look like?

The election came and went – and Councilman Cedillo was re-elected in May of 2017.

Neighbors and other interested parties in Lincoln Heights still had not had any clear communication about the projects. Were they happening still? Was the community going to have a say? Were the businesses and property owners going to be listened to?

2017, December

Promises from politicians are not cutting it anymore.

In December of 2017, Councilman Cedillo was busy locking in the fate of five parking lots in Lincoln Heights without consulting the community.

On December 13, 2017, Councilman Cedillo introduced a motion to amend his motion of the prior year [PDF 469 KB]. This motion approved the selection (once again) of GTM Holdings and WORKS (Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services)  as developers of the five Lincoln Heights parking lots.

In the same motion, he mandated mixed income projects only on the sites (100% affordable housing as an option has, for now, been removed).

In a report in the Eastern Group News, Councilman Cedillo’s spokesman Fredy Cejas had the following to say:

According to Cejas, Cedillo will require [the] development team selected to engage in a robust community participation process to solicit input from the district’s diverse stakeholders.

That input, Cejas said, will be used to “define the parameters of a potential project – including but not limited to what type of housing, the number of units, architectural design, parking requirements and other related city planning and environmental matters.”

“Plan to Build ‘Affordable’ Housing on City-Owned Parking Lots Gains Steam” by Gloria Alvarez, Eastern Group News, December, 2017

2018, January

In January of 2018 activity in Council File 16-0600-S145 shows that development agreements are being executed on several projects in the AHOS plan – the five parcel in Lincoln Heights are not at that stage … yet.

As neighbors and stakeholders gather support, organize, and spread the word, the money and power of city hall also prepares for a fight.

A recent Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council meeting filled the senior center on Workman – with speaker after speaker getting up to question the value of the project, or to speak out against it.

2018, February

On February 18, the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council held a board meeting and discussed their official position on the project. A packed room at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center was filled with negative sentiments about the project, the process, and the behavior of the councilman’s office towards the community. The councilman was a no-show and none of his representatives were in attendance either. You can read more about that meeting here.

On February 24, 2018, at a “Peace March” organized by several non-profit groups and held at the Boys and Girls Club on Pasadena Avenue in Lincoln Heights – members of the Coalition to Protect Lincoln Heights arrived with banners and signs to take part in the march and to address councilman Cedillo (his name was listed on a flyer for the event). The councilman was a no-show. More about that here.

2018, March

A demonstration and march is planned for Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 2324 Workman St, Los Angeles, CA 90031 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Looking Ahead

The development team that won exclusive negotiating rights has not (to our knowledge) had their development agreement placed on a city council agenda yet for approval.

We can make the case to the city council that no development agreement should be awarded, and re-open the request for proposals for the five parking lots in Lincoln Heights.The process was delayed for a year by the incumbent to protect his image during his re-election campaign – it can surely be opened up to more community input about the selection of any prospective developer.

If a development agreement is awarded, according to the AHOS plan, to develop the five parking lots in Lincoln Heights the developer will have to obtain zone changes and other special planning approvals.There is ample room in the zone change process to legally and politically challenge the development of these sites.

Some in our coalition are fed up with the entire idea of building housing on these parking lots – they feel they have been lied to, and tricked, with bureaucratic and media manipulation. Others in our coalition don’t mind the development of new housing, but have had no means of ensuring their needs and the future needs of Lincoln Heights stakeholders will be taken into account.

We have been told, for years now, that the community will have a say while approvals are made, deals are cut, and plans are stamped in city hall.

The Coalition to Protect Lincoln Heights exists to guarantee that the community has a say in planning its future! Promises from politicians are not cutting it anymore.