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Why New Affordable Housing Draws the Short Straw in Los Angeles

Cecilia Estolano, former Executive Director of Los Angeles’s Community Redevelopment Agency, diagnoses why the region has been unable to provide housing for working-class citizens.
September 29, 2016, 1pm PDT | rzelen | @rzelen
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Los Angeles is mired in an affordable housing crisis, with two philosophies facing off via citizen ballot-box initiatives. On one side are those pushing to build more units, and on the other side are those trying to save affordable units, especially rent-stabilized apartments. To better understand how workforce and working-class housing has continuous been dismissed by city leaders, The Planning Report sat down with Cecilia V. Estolano, an expert in sustainable economic development and urban revitalization.

Estolano, co-founder of ELP Advisors and former leader of the Los Angeles’s Community Redevelopment Agency, helps to oversee local governments like the Westside Cities Council of Governments, non-profits, and foundations on redevelopment dissolution and economic revitalization.

When discussing Los Angeles’ prognosis, Estolano explains, “Los Angeles is not a city that actually believes in planning. It doesn't respect community plans...Comprehensive planning around a district or a community area is what it’s going to take to achieve our sustainability goals in Los Angeles.” 

Estolano provides some tangible solutions to addressing the housing shortage. In addition to believing that it would take regulatory reform, entitlement-processing reform, and an accelerated “genuine community planning process” to start to addressing the root of Los Angeles’ housing woes, she provides three tangible examples of ways to make progress:

“Number one: We need a permanent source of money to help fill the gap for low-income housing, specifically.

Number two: We need a much easier process for doing infill housing. Folks have been talking about this for years; The Planning Report has certainly followed it.

I think one of the most exciting prospects right now is the state legislation that was just approved for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). It’s really the easiest and least painful way to increase our supply of workforce housing, and it might be a way to fill in that middle gap that nobody’s addressing right now.” 

Looking even deeper at the issues of equitable economic development, job availability, and technical education in Los Angeles, Estolano also shares news about her project to launch a Biotech Leaders Academy in East Los Angeles, using grant funding and industry internships.

Read more about solutions to LA’s affordable housing shortage and the Biotech Leaders Academy in The Planning Report.

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Published on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 in The Planning Report
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