Top Los Angeles Anti-Poverty Leaders Back November Ballot Measure Against Overdevelopment

founder Father Greg Boyle; Las
Familias del Pueblo
founder Rev. Alice Callaghan; Los
Angeles Catholic Worker
co-founder Jeff Dietrich; and Skid
Row artist and Los
Angeles Department of Poverty
founder John Malpede today
endorsed the citywide ‘Neighborhood
Integrity Initiative’
heading for the November ballot in Los Angeles.

The initiative will halt huge developments not permitted by existing
zoning, end City Hall’s practice of destroying affordable housing to
make way for luxury projects, and force elected leaders to follow the
planning laws. It creates a two-year moratorium on all development that
tries to go bigger than allowed through “spot rezoning,” bans developers
from reducing their required parking, bans developers from writing their
own Environmental Impact Reports and forces the City Council to finally
update the 1980s-era General Plan framework for how and where growth in
L.A. should be allowed.

Father Boyle, whose Homeboy Industries works closely with former
convicts and ex-gang members to put them back on track, train them and
find them jobs, said in a statement: “There is no more pressing issue
for returning citizens than finding affordable housing. The 10,000
former gang members, felons and parolees, wanting to re-direct their
lives through Homeboy Industries each year are burdened more than they
can bear by a considerably reduced housing stock. This renders them
homeless at the precise moment that they are seeking to become
productive members of the community. The Neighborhood Integrity
Initiative will provide a moratorium on development and therefore a
respite for the poor seeking just and fair housing.”

Rev. Callaghan, who has worked for years with immigrant families
and homeless individuals on Skid Row, using her Las Familias del Pueblo
learning center as a hub of family and homeless services, condemned the
behavior of Los Angeles City Council members who meet behind closed
doors to help developers get around L.A. zoning rules:

“What is the point of building 100 luxury units when, in Pico Union,
they’re losing 1,000 affordable units?” Callaghan asked. “On Skid Row,
in the 1960s, we had 9,000 single room occupancy places for the poor and
people getting back on their feet to live. Now we have 3,600 rooms.
Where do Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council think these people go
when another luxury condo goes up? We wonder why so many are on the
sidewalks – these are the very people who lived in those single rooms.
City leaders can only blame themselves. We’ve sold our soul to a handful
of developers.”

Jeff Dietrich, a founding member of Los Angeles Catholic Worker
and author of three books including The Good Samaritan, has
worked for decades running the Catholic Worker soup kitchen on Skid Row
and offering shelter and care to the ill and frail in a group home near
Downtown. Dietrich explained: “It was so enlightening to me to realize —
even though I knew it on a broader level — that there’s a deep, intimate
financial relationship between our L.A. politicians and the developers.
I’m so happy we can vote in November to create a civic plan that’s
really careful about development, and stop the politicians from ignoring
the law. … The mayor says he is going to end homelessness by — what was
the last date? I can’t even remember, because every few years in this
city, there is some new push. Let’s get that moratorium in place and
actually stop and think for a few minutes: ‘What are we really doing

John Malpede decried the frenzy of overdevelopment being approved
on and around Skid Row, which is forcing people onto the streets and
pushing out artists, to be replaced by those who can pay $3,000 to
$4,000 a month in rent. Malpede, a performance artist whose Los Angeles
Poverty Department was the first theater in the U.S. created by and for
the homeless, praised the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative’s
requirement that the Los Angeles City Council obey the law by writing a
General Plan for how and where Los Angeles should grow. “I wonder, have
we forgotten what kind of city we want?” Malpede asked. “We need to have
a plan, not driven by what developers think L.A. should be, but about
what kind of people we want to be and what kind of community that looks
like. It doesn’t look like what I see on the streets of L.A.”


for Coalition to Preserve L.A.
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