More than half a year after they blasted an affordable housing policy for Marina del Rey for failing to fulfill low-income housing needs, local affordable housing proponents have hailed an updated plan that includes requirements for very-low-income tenants.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday, February 6th, to amend a Marina del Rey affordable housing policy to include a requirement that new developments set aside five percent of total units for very-low-income tenants.
The supervisors had given preliminary approval in June to the original affordable housing policy, which required that any new developments in the Marina designate five percent of total units to low-income tenants and five percent to moderate-income tenants. With the additional requirement for very-low-income units, the amended policy will require 15 percent of all new units in the Marina to be designated as affordable.
The housing policy is expected to add 192 affordable housing units over the next few years, with four development projects proposed in the Marina, said Julie Moore, planning deputy for county Supervisor Don Knabe.
The total loss in revenue to the county with the affordable housing units would equal about $74 million over the term of the leases, Moore said.
Local affordable housing advocates, who criticized the original policy for falling short in fulfilling community housing needs, praised the amended policy for incorporating very-low-income resident needs.
“We’re very happy,” said Jun Yang, an organizer with the group People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER). “We believe this policy is a lot stronger than what we had.
“This will be a way for people who work in the area to be able to live there.”
The Marina del Rey affordable housing policy is aimed at preserving existing affordable housing units and creating new affordable units in compliance with the Mello Act, as well as balancing the county’s ability to generate revenues for public programs throughout the county. The Mello Act requires that when any low- or moderate-income residential unit is demolished and replaced within the coastal zone, the unit be replaced with another low- or moderate-income unit.
County officials have said the policy is intended to allow developers to determine the number of replacement and new affordable housing units that are to be constructed as part of any new development project in the Marina. Under the policy, any existing affordable housing unit that is torn down must be replaced with another affordable unit.
Referring to the supervisors’ vote to include a very-low-income requirement for new projects, Helen Garrett, a Marina resident who lives in low-income housing, said the board has “finally heard us.”
Garrett commended the efforts of POWER and other housing advocates in expressing to county officials the importance of accommodating very-low-income housing needs in the Marina.
“Our community put the pressure on and never stopped fighting,” said Garrett, a member of POWER. “This victory shows you what a group of organized people can do.”
Moore acknowledged the efforts of the housing proponents, saying that they lobbied the supervisors for the very-low-income requirement prior to the vote and gave compelling arguments.
“Putting this to rest was really important, especially to [Knabe], who wanted to have all of the parties satisfied as much as possible,” Moore said.
The supervisor recognizes the need for a broad range of housing in the Marina, she said.
The amended affordable housing policy requirements are expected to be applied to four upcoming Marina redevelopment projects. The projects include the Villa Venetia/Lyon Capital at the end of Fiji Way; the Neptune Marina/Legacy Partners on Marquesas Way; the Waterfront at the site of the former Harbor House Restaurant on Admiralty Way; and the Pashai on Washington Boulevard.
While affordable housing advocates have called the amended policy a “step in the right direction,” they are still pushing for more affordable accommodations throughout the area.
“We’re in a housing crisis all over Los Angeles and people need to wake up and realize that affordable housing isn’t going to build itself,” POWER member Pat Phillips said. “The motion is a huge step forward but there is still much more work to be done.”
Noting that more affordable housing is always needed, Garrett is hopeful that the addition of very-low-income units in the Marina will make it a more balanced community.
“Balance in the community only makes the community stronger,” Garrett said.