Sexy-sporty clothing brand American Apparel has long been one of the Los Angeles' most beloved, and most controversial, corporate citizens. It is known for paying decent wages and treating its workers well.
When it easily could have outsourced jobs to Asia, it has also resolutely kept its main factory in Los Angeles, occupying a muscular, seven-story industrial building on the southeast edge of downtown since 2000. American Apparel has proudly championed social-justice causes, including immigration reform and gay rights, and assured consumers that they are buying "sweatshop-free" garments made by well treated workers.
They're just the sort of workers who might might benefit from the forthcoming increase in California's minimum wage. If only they - and every other low-wage worker in Los Angeles - had decent roofs over their heads. >>read more
With the economy humming along, innovative ideas sprouting up around the state, and, of course, the occasional dispute, 2015 was as lively a year for land use as any other in recent memory. To mark the new year, CP&DR presents its most-read stories of 2015.
Boundless as cyberspace may be, the companies that rule the internet still have to take up real estate. And their employees still have to put their heads down somewhere at night. For whatever reason, the mysterious forces of the "innovation economy" have lured an outside share of those companies, and their employees, to Silicon Valley.
With all those likes, stock options, and organic cafeteria items comes, of course, a housing crisis. As absolutely no one is unaware, rents in Silicon Valley have gone up like Pets.com stock over the past few years.
Last week Facebook announced that it was going to make an investment in the crisis. Not an investment in housing, mind you. Just an investment in the crisis. >>read more
A couple of weeks ago I heard a spiel by one of the founders of a new startup called Feastly, which is trying to pair up chefs with diners. Chefs wake up in the morning, go into their kitchen, prepare whatever they want, put out a call on the Internet - and if it's something you want to eat, you go to their house and dine. Feastly, in other words, turns every dining room into a restaurant. >>read more
About 80 years too late, the federal government has put real regulatory authority behind the duty of publicly funded agencies to "affirmatively further fair housing". It's being discussed as a genuine chance to desegregate the suburbs.
On July 8 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued its final rule on "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" (AFFH). Under the rule, state and local agencies receiving HUD funds must now do more than passively study barriers to fair housing: they must also make and follow genuine plans to reduce the barriers they describe.
The new HUD rule was backed -- arguably, was made possible -- by the U.S. Supreme Court's unexpectedly liberal ruling of June 25 in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The high court upheld a claim of disparate-impact discrimination against the Texas agency that allocates low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC). In the court's words, the group bringing the claim "alleged the Department has caused continued segregated housing patterns by its disproportionate allocation of the tax credits, granting too many credits for housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods."
On an unusually hot February afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, I conducted a field walk assessment to help a client identify potential sites for a bikeshare "mobility hub." Standing on a corner near the Convention Center, I noted that we were at the border between two Census tracts. Ordinarily, this border wouldn't matter much—the neighborhood isn't discernibly different on one side or the other—but in this case, I was helping the client apply for a state grant program that gives special consideration to projects located in "disadvantaged communities."
If located on the south side of the street, the project would be located in a "disadvantaged" census tract, but not on the north side. "Well, let's clearly locate the hub on the south side," the client advised, with some incredulous laughter. Humorous as it may sound, this decision speaks to the serious policy weight—and dollars—the State of California has put behind the concept of "benefitting disadvantaged communities."
A couple of weeks ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate because its current location had become too expensive. Funny though this was, I expected the follow-up story to focus on the economic development incentive package being put together to keep San Francisco where it is. >>read more
A week or so later, Gabriel Metcalfe - head of the respected San Francisco urban planning organization SPUR - published a provocative piece in CityLab blaming the city's affordability crisis on progressive politics - especially progressive politics of the no-growth kind. Progressive San Francisco, he argued, "had a fatal, Shakespearean flaw that would prove to be its undoing: It decided early on to be against new buildings. It decided that new development, with the exception of publicly subsidized affordable housing, was not welcome."
All up and down California - especially in the expensive coastal enclaves around San Francisco and Los Angeles - community activists have been lately decrying how the rising cost of housing is making it impossible for normal people with normal incomes to live in these towns. Yet, as Metcalf points out, most of the time these same community activists are arguing that the trend toward high housing cost must be countered with... less housing construction. Or at least less market-rate housing construction.
LOS ANGELES — The Strategic Growth Council and partner agencies went from 0 to $120 million in the span of a few short months this year. Spurred by the passage of a budget bill last year, guidelines for the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant program came out in January, initial applications were accepted March, and just last month 28 grant awardees were announced.
Formed with the passage of SB 732 in 2007, the Strategic Growth Council, a cross-sector body consisting of department heads and secretaries across state government (plus full-time staff), acts as a coordinating organization to consider the development of California's built environment and protection of the state's environment. >>read more
Yesterday's landmark ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding San Jose's inclusionary housing ordinance was rightly hailed as a huge victory for affordable housing advocates. But the truth is that the ruling shouldn't be viewed as a surprise. It was a very difficult case for the building industry to win - at least the way the industry's lawyers has set the case up. >>read more