EPISODE 5 – from THE CALIFORNIA READER on PATREON THIS WEEKEND

Are you subscribed yet? Episode 5, titled “Locked Out! California’s Affordable Housing Crisis,” is based on a May 2000 report of the same name by the California Budget Project. We discuss sharp changes in California’s housing construction from the 1970s through the 1990s, as well as how the 2008 recession continues to impact the Golden State’s abysmal building rate, demonstrated most recently by the fact that in 2019, during Governor Newsom’s first year in office, the state built the lowest amount of new housing units since 2009.

Also, see our “Newsom Card” for Governor Newsom’s promise on housing, provided by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB), in case you spot the governor campaigning to keep his job near you one of these days.

J.T.

EPISODE 57 – RODERICK HALL ON L.A. AS THE CITY OF THE FUTURE

In our 57th episode, we hear from Roderick D. Hall (@RoderickDHall1), formerly with Abundant Housing L.A. and now at Pacific Urbanism, a research firm for community planners in Los Angeles. Listeners will remember Roderick from the Fight for Housing, our third panel for Making Our Neighborhood: Redlining, Gentrification and Housing in East Hollywood. For our conversation, Roderick describes growing up in rural North Carolina, living on his own for the first time in Los Angeles in none other than MacArthur Park, why moms love Denzel Washington, and how a non-judgmental approach towards organizing is crucial for movement-makers everywhere. Follow Roderick’s new adventures in L.A. on Twitter at @RoderickDHall1.

J.T.

397 Days till L.A. Votes Again. For now, Use these Maps To Show Your Neighbors the Rate of Homelessness in Your District Since 2011

In 2011, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) published a map and sheet showing homelessness rates per district in Los Angeles.

On LAHSA’s 2011 map, districts with the highest numbers of unhoused people were shaded dark-blue and included:

I. CD-9, where the historic Skid Row area was based before a change to the district map, or redistricting, in 2012. The district was overseen by Jan Perry when an estimated 5,800 people in the community were reported without shelter.

II. CD-14, where Boyle Heights was based. The district was overseen by Jose Huizar–who vacated his seat recently after being arrested on charges of bribery–when an estimated 2,200 people in the community were reported without shelter.

III. CD-13, where East Hollywood was based. The district was overseen by Eric Garcetti when an estimated 1,900 people in the community were reported without shelter.

IV. CD-8, where Leimert Park was based. The district was overseen by Bernard C. Parks when an estimated 1,600 people in the community were reported without shelter.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2011.

Nine years later, for the 2020 count, LAHSA did not publish a map showing district per homelessness, but that didn’t stop a band of looky-loos from publishing another one for the city on their behalf. The choropleth map below notes percent changes in homelessness per district in a bivariate color scheme from green to red to show proportion. Listed further below is a sheet ranking homelessness in order of highest to lowest per district based on LAHSA’s most recent count.

By 2020, a year after L.A. County reported $727 billion dollars in gross domestic product, fourteen of L.A.’s fifteen council districts, or 93% of the city, saw an increase of homelessness since 2011. As well, the districts with the highest numbers of unhoused residents actually included the same four districts from ten years earlier, though in a slightly rearranged order. These districts were:

I. CD-14, where Skid Row, along with much of downtown, was moved to after city redistricting in 2012. The district is now overseen by Kevin De Leon, and an estimated 7,600 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of more than 245% since 2011.

II. CD-9, where historic South Central is still based. The district is now overseen by Curren D. Price, in which an estimated 4,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, a decrease of 15.5% since 2011.

III. CD-8, where Leimert Park is still based along with the Crenshaw Corridor. The district is now overseen by Marqueece Harris-Dawson, in which an estimated 4,400 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 175% since 2011.

IV. CD-13, where East Hollywood is still based. The district is now overseen by Mitch O’Farrell, in which an estimated 3,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 105% since 2011.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2020.

Also note that while our choropleth map shows that District 9 was the only district that didn’t see an increase of homelessness since 2011, the lack of an increase did not change the district’s status as the second of the four areas with the most pronounced homelessness in Los Angeles over the last ten years.

Sick of it? You’re not alone. As of today, voters in Los Angeles have less than 397 days to pick eight new City Council Members, a new Mayor, City Attorney, and City Controller. But with over thirteen months to go, these races have already seen up to $2.5 million in campaign donations, more than a few of which ring peculiar.

Special thanks to Mehmet Berker, L.A.’s local cartographer, for this report’s map.

J.T

EPISODE 56 – GRAND PARK’S L.A. VOICES WITH SAMANTA HELOU-HERNANDEZ & J.T.

In our 56th episode, the LIVE recording of Samanta Helou-Hernandez and I’s special talk for Grand Park’s L.A. Voices, an annual festival celebrating L.A.’s prolific arts and culture scene with the city’s talent. Samanta and I interview each other to discuss “behind-the-scenes” notes for Making Our Neighborhood: Redlining, Gentrification and Housing in East Hollywood, including where we drew our inspirations for the event, watching the series transform into a multilayered project, and our many discoveries along the way. We also take some great questions from digital audience members for a lively session like no other for yours truly during this extraordinary year. Shout out @grandpark_la on Instagram for the special opportunity to connect our series with the rest of Los Angeles, as well as the friend, neighbor and collaborator @thissideofhoover!

J.T.

J.T. Supports the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) Coming to L.A.

At the same time that calls increase on our public officials to support not luxury, but humane housing in Los Angeles, a growing number of people are also calling for more Community Land Trusts (CLTs). CLTs maintain community ownership–or shared stewardship–over land and housing, committing to permanently affordable housing options for community members.

According to Matthew Vu, a resident of South Central Los Angeles and student at L.A. Trade Tech’s Community Planning and Economic Development department, CLTs require participation from homeowners and tenants, as well as other members of the community in their governing board meetings or governing structure. Vu also notes that renters in areas covered by CLTs can work with local CLTs to acquire a property together, facilitating the process of acquisition for tenants as well as the non-profit stewards..

The first modern Community Land Trust was born in the late 1960s in Southwest Georgia, when Black farmworkers and civil rights leaders, including members of the famed Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, founded New Communities Land Trust, turning nearly 6,000 acres of land into homesteads and agricultural area, as well as providing affordable housing for Black farmers and their families on the land. As of 2019, New Communities turned 50 years old and is still operating in partnership with Black farmers.

There are now up to 225 CLTs in the United States, twelve in California, and five in L.A. County. In June 2020, the city of San Francisco passed the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, providing local CLTs there the first opportunity to purchase buildings and take them off the market once they’re on sale. At least six buildings in the Bay area at risk of being purchased by speculators have been saved by local CLTs since the law’s passage, keeping them affordable for low-income residents there.

Now, in an effort to create more for Community Land Trusts across Los Angeles County, which at 10 million residents is the largest in the U.S., CLTS in Los Angeles have formed a coalition and are urging communities to learn about the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act. The L.A. Community Land Trust Coalition (LACLTC) is an organization of L.A.’s local trusts, “committed to the preservation of low-income communities of color by decommodifying housing, promoting education, community empowerment, the conversion of tenants to owners, and making housing a human right.”

The Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is a proposed law that would give tenants in unincorporated areas of L.A. County the first opportunity to buy the building they live in if and when a building’s owner decides to sell the property. The five Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in L.A. County advocating to bring TOPA to L.A. include: Beverly-Vermont CLT (BVCLT) along the East Hollywood and Koreatown areas, El Sereno CLT (ESCLT) in the El Sereno community, T.R.U.S.T. in Historic South Central, Fideicomiso Comuntario Tierra Libre (FCTL) in the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles area, and Liberty Community Land Trust for the Southwest and Mid-City communities.

Want to learn more? Check out the TOPA Town Hall hosted by the T.R.U.S.T. and Liberty Community Land Trusts this past February.

J.T.

EPISODE 55 – DAVID DE LA CRUZ, ON LAUSD’S RETURN TO SCHOOL THIS SPRING

In our 55th episode, we chat with David de la Cruz, of the Koreatown area, on none other than Los Youngs going back to school this week, at least where David teaches at Young Oak Kim Academy. David completed his undergraduate degree at Cal State University, Los Angeles, and is now a first-year teacher for 7th graders in the English Language Arts program at Young Oak Kim. Yours truly interviews David on thoughts about the upcoming protocols for students, the setup of the school-day, and words of encouragement for parents and teachers as students gradually shift back to the classroom.

J.T.

Who is Reelecting Mitch O’Farrell? New GIS Map Shows Contributions by Zip to Reelection Campaign for 2022

An analysis of data from the L.A. Ethics Commission shows that at least 75% of funds for Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for Council District 13 (CD-13) in 2022 are from outside of District 13. At the end of 2020, O’Farrell’s office reported a total of just under $110,000 in funds for his reelection campaign. CD-13, made up of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Little Armenia, parts of Koreatown, Thai Town and Silver Lake, is up for an election on June 7, 2022.

The choropleth map below, shaded from light to dark-red to highlight least to largest quantities, shows which zip codes have contributed the most dollar sums to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign in 2022 as of December 31st, 2020.

Zip codes on the choropleth map represent donations in aggregated sums, meaning that zip codes do not represent individual households, but the total sum of donations from different households within the given zip code.

Council District 13 is roughly contained on the map by the red 90068 and medium red 90028 segments to the west, the dark-red 90026 segment to the south-east, the red 90065 segment to the north-east, and the medium red 90039 and 90027 segments in the center. All other segments highlighted on the map around these “flank” segments are not a part of CD-13 but are segments containing donors to the 2022 campaign.

Donors within Council District 13 and donors not within the district marked and separated by a yellow line.

Zip codes for Council District 13 are: 90004, ranging from Rampart Village to Hancock Park; 90026, where Silver Lake and Elysian Valley are based; 90027, including Little Armenia and parts of Los Feliz; 90028, or the Hollywood area; 90029, where East Hollywood and Thai Town are located; 90038, representing Melrose Hill through Hollywood up to La Brea; 90039, spanning from north of Elysian Heights through Atwater Village; 90057, including Historic Filipinotown; 90065, for Glassell Park; and 90068, for the Hollywood Hills.

While households in zip codes for Echo Park, Glassell Park, and Hollywood form the top three areas for donations to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign with nearly $17,000 between them, fourth in contributions are households from 90210 ($4,200), where Beverly Hills is based. The only zip code in the 13th district not listed for donations to the reelection campaign was 90029 (let’s keep it this way, East Hollywood).

Households in area 90210, or Beverly Hills, donated at least $4,200 to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for CD-13 in 2022.

To the west of Hollywood, only ten zip codes, not including 90210, contributed nearly $15,000 to O’Farrell’s reelection campaign in the roughly two months since the Council Member announced his intention to run for his third term as CD-13’s representative. O’Farrell publicized his intention to run for a third term at the helm of the 13th district in an email to constituents as early as November 2020.

Only 10 of roughly 20 zip codes west of Hollywood donated $15,000 for Mitch O’Farrell’s 2022 reelection campaign for the office of CD-13.

A total of 83 zip codes reflecting just under 200 donations for O’Farrell’s reelection were included in the analysis, including zip codes from as far out as Westport, Connecticut ($250), West Bradford Township, Pennsylvania ($1,600), and even Washington D.C. ($500). Find the Excel sheet for donors listed from highest to lowest here.

O’Farrell’s pool of “outsider” funds for reelection in 2022 virtually mirrors the rate of “outside” donors for his campaign when he ran for his second term for the office from 2016 – 2017. The Los Feliz Ledger reported in 2016 that nearly 75% of donations in support of O’Farrell’s second bid for office came from outside of the district.

Challengers to O’Farrell’s incumbency in 2017
also called attention to the Council Member’s fealty for outside money. Local housing activist and Neighborhood Council aficionado, Doug Haines, was quoted as saying:

“It’s not just development or planning. Mitch has isolated himself from the people he is sworn to serve.”

Doug Haines, East Hollywood Neighborhood Council

A month after O’Farrell won his second term for CD-13 in 2017, an investigation of donations to O’Farrell’s first campaign for the 13th district in 2013 led to real estate investor Leeor Maciborski being fined $17,000 for a number of discreet donations to O’Farrell from limited liability companies (LLCs).

Maciborski exceeded the $700 limit at the time–now $800–for individual donors by at least $3,000. According to the L.A. Times, who originally uncovered the discreet donations, Maciborski was tied to several apartment buildings in both the East Hollywood and Los Feliz areas. He was not listed among O’Farrell’s donors list as of the end of 2020.

But accounting for just under $15,000 for O’Farrell’s 2022 campaign are at least 24 other donors identifying themselves as real estate developers or investors. Zip codes listed for these donors were as far north as Santa Clarita, and as close to the coast as Manhattan Beach.

Households in area 90266, or Manhattan Beach, donated at least $2050 to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for CD-13 in 2022.

In 2019, after FBI agents raided former Council Member Jose Huizar’s home in a bribery scheme between him and a downtown real estate mogul, L.A. City Council voted to ban real estate developers from donating to candidates for political office while their projects are pending approval from the council. However, the ordinance was called a “skeleton” of what was originally proposed by groups focused on getting money out of politics, and does not actually go into effect until after the 2022 elections.

This “late start” for the light restrictions on donations from realtors is a major part of why virtually all of the incumbents at L.A. City Hall for elections in 2022 are enjoying major head starts in finance against their challengers, ranging from tens of thousands more to hundreds of thousands of more dollars to spend on ads, mailing campaigns, and staff. At the end of 2020, the only other candidate in the race for CD-13 who reported raising funds, Albert Corado, listed just slightly over $11,000 for his upstart campaign against O’Farrell. As Rob Quan, of the Unrig L.A. organization once put it:

“Developer money tends to follow the people holding power, not the people challenging power.”

Rob Quan, Unrig L.A.

It’s for this reason that conspicuously absent from the O’Farrell reelection campaign’s donation list are people who actually live in the 13th district but are exceedingly priced out of its boundaries and Los Angeles altogether, including bus-drivers, cooks, nannies, hotel maintenance workers, people representing street-vendors, tenants unions, teachers, food and retail workers, immigrant rights coalitions, advocacy groups for the unhoused, and more; or the kinds of people police officers didn’t hesitate to forcibly remove from Echo Park at Mitch O’Farrell’s direction this past March 25th.

Mitch O’Farrell has held the office for CD-13 since 2013, and is now seeking his third and final term as the district’s representative for L.A. City Hall. The previous Council Member for the seat, Eric Garcetti, held the office from 2001 – 2013. Support for our map was provided by friends at the Institute of Digital Education and Research at UCLA.

J.T.