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Garcetti's budget proposal: Homeless spending depends on developer fees, land sales

Mayor Eric Garcetti presents his annual budget proposal with Deputy Mayor Rick Cole, left, and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana
Sharon McNary/KPCC
Mayor Eric Garcetti presenting his annual budget proposal in 2015 with Deputy Mayor Rick Cole, left, and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana

Nearly half of the $138 million Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed to spend on getting homeless people into affordable housing and providing other services would come from fees and property sales that have yet to be approved, according to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.

The mayor's proposed budget counts on his new Affordable Housing Linkage Fee — which the City Council has not yet acted on — generating $20 million for low income housing in the coming fiscal year.

Another $47 million would come in the form of property the city would use or sell to others to develop affordable housing projects which the administration said would reduce homelessness. That could be enough to add 700 housing units, said city spokeswoman Connie Llanos. Some were skeptical that it would go as smoothly as Mayor Eric Garcetti's proposed budget suggests.

“Where are these properties located? Will the neighbors readily accept (affordable housing) projects there?” asked Kerry Morrison executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which runs two business improvement districts. “Will there be emergency provisions passed that will allow expedited development?”
She said the region needs a broad tax increase to fund homeless housing and services — something along the lines of  the half-cent sales tax that funds local transit. She prefers that to the proposed linkage fee on developers.

Santana agreed that the mayor's proposed level of commitment to homeless issues needs a steady funding stream. Some of next year's spending would be based on one-time-only sources like property sales and commitments of general fund dollars.

"If a new funding source is not established at this time next year, then this funding source is in jeopardy and all of the programs it is supporting are in jeopardy," Santana said.

He also said because construction projects may not be completed by this time next year, results won't be immediate.

"The reality may be that the problem may get worse before it gets better because there are forces beyond just this infrastructure that we are trying to put in place that are impacting the number of homeless individuals," Santana said.

The details came as Mayor Eric Garcetti prepared for the Wednesday unveiling of his $8.75 billion spending plan, a 2 percent increase over the current year's overall budget.

The proposed budget reflects a growing city economy with increased property and sales tax income. It has no major cuts, said Deputy Mayor Matt Szabo.

Szabo and Santana spoke at a press event Tuesday, but their comments were embargoed until Garcetti's official budget release Wednesday morning. The budget goes to the city council for approval.

Other highlights from the proposal:

  • LAPD will add 526 new officers to the bring staffing up to the full 10,000 previously approved.
  • The city fire department will add 230 firefighters, including 105 new positions.
  • Street repairs will remain at the same level as the current year: 2,400 miles of roads resurfaced.
  • The city will spend $31 million in sidewalk repairs and $8 million on its Clean Streets program.
  • It will invest $1 million in publicly available electric vehicle chargers.

Homeless spending

Roughly $72 million Garcetti proposes spending on homeless issues next fiscal year would come mostly from the city's general fund, although some special funds would also be tapped.

That includes $4.6 million to move some LAPD officers from part-time to full-time work on homeless issues, including mental health crisis teams and officers working with Bureau of Sanitation street clearing efforts.

Nearly $51 million would be spent by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on existing and new projects to help homeless people secure housing and services. That would be a significant increase from the  about $20 million it received  the current budget year.

One such new project would be constructing self-storage places in more locations around the city where homeless people can store their possessions. The city has just one storage location for homeless people in the city in the downtown Skid Row area, but it is required to provide it when clearing homeless encampments off the streets.

Spending on affordable housing in Los Angeles has plunged because of a drop in federal funding and the dissolution of redevelopment agencies after a court decision several years ago.

City properties 

The properties the mayor suggested selling or transferring to a developer to build affordable housing are in five different council districts, including five in District 11. They are:

  • Lincoln Heights — 136-164 S. Avenue 24 and 216-224 S. Avenue 24. These two parcels are Department of Transportation parking lots north and south of Broadway that serve local retail. Council District 1.
  • Hillside — 11681 W. Foothill Blvd., Sylmar. A hillside parcel near the Hansen Dam Recreation area, not close to homes. District 7.
  • Imperial Lot — 283 W. Imperial Highway. A vacant, flat parcel just west of Broadway northeast of where the 110 and 105 freeways cross. The site is set apart by two wide streets from nearby single-family homes. District 8.
  • Thatcher Yard — 3233 S. Thatcher Avenue, Marina del Rey. An underused Bureau of Street Services equipment yard within a neighborhood of single-family homes and apartments. District 11
  • Old West L.A. Animal Shelter — 11950 Missouri Ave. The abandoned animal shelter at Missouri and Bundy Ave. is close to single-family homes and retail.  District 11.
  • Old Fire Station No. 5 — 6621 W. Manchester Ave. Unused fire house in a neighborhood of apartment buildings near Emerson Ave. District 11.
  • Venice Deli Pacific Site — 125 E. Venice Blvd. At 122,000 square feet, this parking lot at Venice and Pacific is  one of the larger parcels the city might offer for affordable housing. It is near apartments and some single-family homes and small retail. District 11.
  • Eagle Rock Fair Park — 2239 W. Fair Park Ave. This city and Los Angeles DWP yard is at the western stub end of W. Fair Park Ave. and appears to be unimproved. District 14

And here’s where the mayor’s homeless budget plan suggests building self-storage places for homeless people to keep their larger belongings. The sites would also host outreach workers who could help place homeless people in housing.

  • City Sanitation Yard — 452 N. San Fernando Road. Council District 1
  • Friendship Auditorium — 3201 Riverside Drive. This historic auditorium on a sliver of Griffith Park between I-5 and Riverside Drive is where the Los Angeles Breakfast Club, founded in 1925,  has met for decades, however the club membership is has dwindled in recent years as its membership ages.  Council district 4
  • Sepulveda Basin — 17400 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. This massive park also hosts other uses, like a Senior Center and farmer’s market. District 6
  • Sunland Yard — 9401 Wentworth St., Sunland. The parcel, used as a Bureau of Street Services yard, is near a fire station and the 210 Freeway. District 7
  • Westminster Senior Center — 1234 S. Pacific Ave., Venice. This unused former senior center is a few blocks from the beach near Westminster Elementary School, near Pacific and Westminster Ave. District 11
  • Old Fire Station No. 53 — 438 N. Mesa St., San Pedro. This deactivated fire house has seen use as a performing arts venue by the city’s Cultural Affairs Department. District 15

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the amount that Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority received last year. The agency received $20 million.

This story has been updated.