City will draw up “anti-displacement zone” ordinance

The measure would cap rents near market-rate projects for three years

Council President Herb Wesson and a rendering of District Square
Council President Herb Wesson and a rendering of District Square

Los Angeles city officials will draw up an ordinance to create “anti-displacement zones” around new market-rate developments.

The City Council directed city departments to draw up the ordinance on Wednesday, according to Curbed. The proposal comes from Council President Herb Wesson, whose district stretches several communities south of Wilshire Boulevard as well as Koreatown.

Real estate development has driven rapid change in many of those communities over the years, and politicians like Wesson have been wary of the impact. Wesson said that market-rate development is “designed to strengthen” local economies, but often negatively impacts long-time residents.

Developers who do not include affordable units in their projects would have to reserve at least 30 percent of their units for renters using Section 8 vouchers. As proposed, there would be a three-year cap on rent increases in units within one mile of a qualifying development.

New developments often prompt landlords to increase rents at neighboring buildings. Those increases — by design or otherwise — sometimes force out residents who can’t afford to pay the new rents. The proposed ordinance appears designed to head that off, at least in the short-term.

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The ordinance would create new avenues for residents and nonprofits to buy buildings from landlords, according to Curbed. The city would create an online portal residents could use to find housing they can afford in their neighborhoods.

Wesson officially introduced the concept in a September letter to the South L.A. Planning Commission, expressing his opposition to Charles Company’s 577-unit market-rate District Square project planned in Crenshaw.

The project has gone through several changes over the years. Wesson supported an earlier version that included a supermarket and other retail space, but opposes the latest version proposed in May. Two community groups are pushing the city to disapprove the plan.

“We have no need for a six-story development consisting of 577 luxury apartments that will be unaffordable to most of the neighborhood’s current residents,” he said at the time. [Curbed]Dennis Lynch