Developers’ big push for housing at Warner Center excludes affordable units

More than 2K resi units have been approved since a long-range zoning plan took effect 5 years ago, but none meets the affordability criteria, a councilman said

City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Warner Center (Credit: iStock)
City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Warner Center (Credit: iStock)

The Warner Center has seen a flood of new development into Los Angeles over the last few years, residential and commercial. But there is one element that has gone completely missing: affordable housing construction.

Not one of the more than 2,500 residential units approved in that area of the San Fernando Valley qualifies as affordable housing, according to Curbed, citing statistics from City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. The housing developments were proposed as a result of the Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan, the 2013 measure that overhauled the area’s zoning laws.

The plan covers about 1,100 acres and is meant to promote dense mixed-use development in what has historically been a mostly retail and office-heavy area. Developers and investors have poured money into residential development sites and existing multifamily assets, as well as retail and office projects.

In May, Blumenfield asked the Council planning staff to find ways to bring more affordable housing to Warner Center, including adding a measure to the 2035 plan that would require developers include a certain number of affordable units in their developments.

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“For the Warner Center to be truly transit- and pedestrian-oriented, and to thrive in an economically diverse area, we need an economically diverse population,” Blumenfield said last week.

The city might have to get creative — so far, specific plans with such inclusionary housing measures haven’t withstood legal challenges, according to Curbed. City Planner Bob Glick said such a measure could scare off developers as well.

Blumenfield’s message follows a recent study that showed L.A. housing prices continue to rise, jumping 15.7 percent for one-bedroom apartments in October, compared to the same period last year.

On Tuesday, voters will cast their ballots on several statewide referendums, including most notably, Proposition 10. Passage of that ballot measure would strike the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, thereby allowing local governments around the state to pass broad new rent control laws. [Curbed] — Dennis Lynch