Citizens oversight board named to manage ULA transfer tax
No for-profit developers or property owners will sit at the table for spending decisions
The Los Angeles City Council confirmed 15 people to sit on a Citizens Oversight Board to supervise how the estimated $673 million collected in the first year of the Measure ULA transfer tax will be spent.
Mayor Karen Bass appointed the board, which noticeably lacks representation from the multifamily building or development sectors. The members include a formerly homeless woman, nonprofit housing executives and a USC law professor who founded the USC Gould Housing Law and Policy Clinic.
A report on how to roll out ULA released last week by the City Administrative Officer and Los Angeles Housing Department recommended that people with specific backgrounds could serve on the board. None of the descriptions called for a developer or someone involved in the for-profit real estate business.
Rather, the report said the board should seek people with experience in fields such as nonprofit affordable housing development, people involved in identifying transit opportunities with the development of affordable housing, a person with a background in construction labor unions, a tenants rights attorney and someone who has experienced homelessness or living in lower income housing.
Janet Gagnon, government relations director for Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles critiqued this new board for not seating more people involved in the for-profit real estate business.
“There is not a single seat for a rental housing provider or their trade association AAGLA on the 15 member committee. Nor is there a single for-profit developer seat despite 70 percent of the funding that is supposed to go to affordable housing with between 45 percent to 50 percent for multifamily buildings with 40 or more units,” she wrote in an email.
Tom Swanson, president of Greater Los Angeles Realtors Association, said that his group shared the oversight board’s goal of solving homelessness and increasing the area’s housing supply, despite his group being opposed to Measure ULA. “It is our hope that Measure ULA is implemented properly, and that funds are spent efficiently, effectively and fairly given the measure’s expected adverse impact on the region’s housing market,” Swanson said.
A businessman who was named to the board is Jacob Lipa, principal partner of Lipa Consulting Group. It consults on acquisition, financing, planning, engineering, construction management for real estate clients, according to a LinkedIn profile. Lipa also serves on the board of directors for The Los Angeles Business Council Institute, a research and educational arm of the Los Angeles Business Council. A representative for Psomas, a company Lipa was formerly associated, said he retired from the company before the pandemic.
People on the oversight board include Alan Greenlee, executive director of Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing; Steve Diaz, deputy director of LA CAN, an activist group in downtown and South Los Angeles; and Deepika Sharma, who recently helped start Gould Housing Law and Policy Clinic. She also gave housing issues counsel to Bass and Nithya Raman, a progressive on the L.A. City Council.
Sharma made national headlines in 2018 for getting a real estate investment firm to pay $2.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit alleged the REIT pressured Latino and mentally disabled tenants to leave a rent-controlled building.
Others serving on the board include Antonio Sanchez, Quaneshia Jeffery, Charlie Cea, Michelle Coulter, Debbie Chen, Elda Mendez-Lemus, Leilani Reed, Alfonso Directo, Alma Morales, Emily Martinuk and Mark Wilson.
Measure ULA requires that at least 3 percent of the 8 percent of funds allocated for administration of Measure ULA be used for the citizen’s oversight committee. The oversight committee is expected to hire an inspector general who will serve as the committee’s lead staff person, according to the report from the City Administrative Officer and Los Angeles Housing Department.
The mayor’s office did not answer an email request for comment.
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