City Committee Supports 15% Low-Cost Housing Rule

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles developer was dealt a major setback Tuesday when a City Council subcommittee decided to uphold a city requirement that sets aside 15% of units in new residential developments near downtown for low-income residents. Luxury apartment builder Geoff Palmer has sought an exemption from the rule.

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee will recommend to the full council today that it adhere strictly to the letter of the 1991 Central City Specific Plan and reject a later Planning Commission modification that provided loopholes in the affordable-housing requirements.

The subcommittee's decision could dampen interest among other builders considering development in the area, opponents of the requirements say, and it signals that city officials are willing to push developers to pay for low-cost housing.

G.H. Palmer & Associates has fought a pitched battle with affordable-housing advocates over the issue, and Palmer has threatened to pull the plug on his proposed 300-unit Visconti project at 3rd and Bixel streets if the City Council rejects his appeal to the affordable-housing requirement.

"[Visconti] is not viable under the Specific Plan," said John Bowman, a land-use attorney representing Palmer at the hearing. "This decision, assuming it passes the City Council, will not produce a single unit of affordable housing. It will only promote the status quo."

Jubilant affordable-housing advocates lauded the subcommittee's decision, saying their protracted battle to ensure low-income housing in new downtown developments is nearly won.

"I am beyond excited," said Alvivon Hurd, a spokeswoman for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. "This is the first step toward achieving affordable housing here in Los Angeles."

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