Readers React: SB 50 will destroy neighborhoods without building more affordable homes

A new town-home project is under construction in Leimert Park on April 16.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: SB 50, a bill in California to allow for higher-density housing, is more peril than promise. It will not solve our housing shortage.

It will override decades of community involvement, upzone hundreds of thousands of properties in Los Angeles alone, and create windfall profits for some landowners while eliminating most single-family neighborhoods. It does not assure construction of affordable housing and will result in immense unstudied environmental impacts leading to lengthy litigation.

Most importantly, it will destroy the time-honored principles of local land-use decisions.

As a principal planner for the city of Los Angeles, I attended hundreds of community meetings, met thousands of voters and know that most Angelenos would not benefit from this legislation. They want to work out the housing issues as appropriate for each neighborhood.

You can’t fix a complex issue with a one-size edict from Sacramento.


Elizabeth Weisman, Los Angeles


To the editor: You propose that SB 50 gives cities two years to meet their housing targets before taking effect.

It is not unreasonable for the state to require cities to find room for more and denser housing in appropriate locations near jobs. But having a law that would in two years authorize developers to build low- to mid-rise housing complexes almost anywhere they like invites them to wait.

California has lots of space for housing; the question is where it should go. I suggest new job centers should be accompanied by plenty of adjacent or nearby new housing.

In any event, the proper answer from communities to SB 50 can be summarized in two words taken from the state Constitution: referendum and initiative.

Gary Wesley, Mountain View, Calif.


To the editor: You ask, “Who gets to decide what’s historic?”

Residents, historians and preservation specialists — namely, the Office of Historic Resources in L.A.’s Department of City Planning — have determined that more than 30 areas are culturally and architecturally significant in telling the story of community development and life in early 20th century Los Angeles.

Some of our historic preservation overlay zones (HPOZs) are only a few blocks, and most cannot be described as ritzy or elite. HPOZs contain plenty of multi-tenant structures and renters who value the preservation of our city’s heritage for future generations. Most contain environmentally critical mature trees.

HPOZs are not closed communities; office workers from the towers on Wilshire Boulevard can often be seen in my neighborhood walking during their lunch hour for the sake of their physical and mental well-being. Meanwhile, plenty of space exists for high-rise housing along our main transit corridors.

Los Angeles leaders talk about being a “world-class city.” What world-class city tears down its history again and again?

Ann Rubin, Los Angeles

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