In an effort to combat the loss of rental and affordable housing on the Westside, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl called for a moratorium on condominium conversions in the 11th District, which he represents.

Rosendahl introduced a motion Tuesday, August 8th, calling for an immediate one-year moratorium on condo conversions.

During the moratorium, city agencies will work with affordable housing activists and developers to craft long-term protections and incentives for rental housing.

Rosendahl said the moratorium would call a “time out” to the rapid loss in rental housing, both affordable and market rate, in his district.

In recent years, thousands of rental units in the district have been converted or demolished and replaced by high-priced condominiums, he said.

“We are at the point of crisis,” Rosendahl said. “Longtime residents are being forced from their homes in epidemic numbers.

“They can no longer continue to live in their neighborhoods. Our communities are being ripped apart.”

Rosendahl’s motion directs the Los Angeles Department of City Planning to review tools used by other cities to protect and increase affordable housing stock and report back on various land use measures including, but not limited to, condominium conversion caps, inclusionary zoning and community land trusts.

“Our communities are becoming more and more economically segregated,” Rosendahl said. “We need to preserve rental and affordable housing in order to protect the diversity and character of our neighborhoods.”

The motion also calls for the planning department, the Los Angeles Housing Department, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the City Attorney’s Office to work together to develop policies and funding mechanisms to prevent the loss, and to find ways to encourage developers to increase the supply, of additional affordable rental housing units.

District 11 accounts for more than 25 percent of the condo conversions and more than a third of the rent-controlled units lost citywide, Rosendahl said.

From January 1st, 2001 to July 27th this year, 1,051 rental units were converted to condominiums in District 11.

An additional 790 units were demolished and replaced by condos from 2001 to 2005 in District 11.

Additionally, 3,058 rent-controlled units have been lost in District 11.

Affordable housing advocates welcomed Rosendahl’s action.

“We thank Councilman Rosendahl for stepping up to the plate and providing the leadership our city so desperately needs,” said Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival. “This condo craze is ripping the heart and soul of communities throughout Los Angeles.”

“We’ve seen children displaced from schools because affordable housing apartments have been demolished and replaced by condos,” said Chris Gabriele of People Organized for Westside Renewal. “We’ve seen schools lose money because children have had to move to South Los Angeles because they haven’t been able to find a place to live in the 11th District.

“What we have, we need to preserve and this condo conversion moratorium is a step in the right direction.”

Mindy Meyer, co-chair of the Affordable Housing and Tenants Rights Committee of Rosendahl’s Empowerment Congress, said: “We are bleeding in the 11th District for a lack of affordable housing. This moratorium will be a tourniquet to stop the bleeding while we come up with solutions.”

A moratorium on condo conversion has also been endorsed by various labor organizations including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Service International Employees Union Local 660.

Alejandro Stephen, president of Local 660, attended a Rosendahl press event and said the issue was crucial to his union members, who are desperate for affordable housing.

The motion is also supported by Regina Freer and Mike Woo, members of the citywide Planning Commission.

Rosendahl’s motion was referred to the City Council’s Planning Committee and Housing Committee.

Rosendahl said he expected the committees would give the motion quick and favorable consideration and that the ordinance establishing the moratorium should come before the full City Council sometime in the fall.

The full text of the motion can be read at Rosendahl’s Web site, www.councilmanrosendahl.com

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