Bass is looking for a list of vacant city lots for homeless shelters

Bass is looking for a list of vacant city lots for homeless shelters

  • US News
  • February 11, 2023
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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Friday ordered city officials to compile a list of the city’s surplus and unused lots over the next three weeks, the first major step in determining which will be used to build homeless shelters.

Bass, in her third executive directive on homelessness since taking office in December, said she wants city officials to review each of those locations by March 31 to determine which is best for temporary or permanent housing — an aggressive schedule for a city Those who have done so have been struggling for years to respond to the crisis.

The mayor intends to gather similar information in the coming months from the city’s three own agencies — the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports and the Department of Water and Energy — which may face some restrictions on the use of their property . It will also seek to build on land owned by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where it controls four of 13 board seats.

“We have already had significant and very encouraging discussions with Metro to provide significant acreage for permanent housing, temporary housing and affordable housing generally,” said Mercedes Marquez, mayor’s office director for housing and homelessness solutions. “These talks have already begun and are progressing very positively.”

The mayor, who has vowed to bring 17,000 people indoors in her first year, issued her order a week after the City Council decided to build a new 168-room hotel on a long-standing redevelopment site near USC — one whose development was negotiated by the city.

Opponents of the hotel, which is planned on land once occupied by a city library, said such public property should have been set aside for affordable housing. They still hope Bass intervenes.

“We think the mayor should do whatever it takes to uphold the spirit of her policy and ensure that affordable housing is built on this site,” said Maria Patiño Gutierrez, director of equitable development for land use at the nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy .

Bass spokesman Zach Seidl said the mayor currently has no position on the hotel.

Councilor Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents the area where this site is located, spoke out in favor of the project last month, telling colleagues it has been in the works for several years – and would be his South LA district’s first unionized hotel provide and other community services.

“[This is] the very rare opportunity that I advocate for a private developer, a private commercial developer, on affordable housing,” he said at the time.

Friday’s order is the latest in a series of efforts by the mayor to quickly and aggressively tackle homelessness. Since mid-December, her Inside Safe initiative has relocated more than 200 people living on the streets of Venice, Del Rey, Hollywood and parts of south Los Angeles to temporary shelters. She’s just the latest elected City Hall officer to locate public land for homeless shelters.

Last year, former city controller Ron Galperin released a report that identified 26 vacant city lots as potential sites for emergency shelter or affordable housing, including public parking lots in Lincoln Heights, Leimert Park and Reseda.

Galperin’s list also included the Parker Center site that once served as the LAPD’s headquarters, as well as the property known as Marlton Square near Crenshaw Boulevard in South LA, which has long been eyed for private commercial development.

Bass aides say the forthcoming analysis will be broader than that conducted last year and will provide a “deeper look” at the city’s vacant or surplus land.

Ronald Brown, left, hugs Mayor Karen Bass at the condominium complex

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, right, on Tuesday spoke with Ronald Brown, 56, an 11-month resident of the Hilda L. Solis Care First Village, a 232-unit temporary housing complex built from shipping containers and prefabricated modular units .

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Bass has spent several weeks visiting public housing developments for the homeless, often with federal officials in tow. On Wednesday, she and Jeff Olivet, executive director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, visited Hilda L. Solis Care First Village, a sheltered community for the homeless built on state-owned land once set aside for a prison facility.

A day later, officials in the San Fernando Valley celebrated the completion of the city’s 11th “tiny home,” which occupies a public right-of-way that runs alongside the Metrolink railroad tracks.


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Marquez, the mayor’s homeless czar, said the proposed projects could be built using modular components. She dismissed the idea of ​​building tiny homes on these city lots, saying she was focusing on building long-term units with their own kitchens and bathrooms.

“I’m not looking at building shelters,” she added.

In recent years, some of the city’s efforts to explore public land for homeless shelters have met with backlash.

Two years ago, then-Councillor Mike Bonin asked city policy analysts to consider whether temporary homeless shelters could be built on or adjacent to park and recreation facilities in his area, including Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey and Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades. This motion met with opposition from a number of neighborhood leaders.

City officials eventually issued a four-page report calling most of these sites unfeasible, largely because they lacked adequate infrastructure or were already heavily used by families for park and recreation activities.

Marquez said Bass has no intention of building facilities for the homeless in parks or recreation areas.

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