by Scott Zwartz
Friday, July 15, 2016
The Edict is Issued
The Garcetti Administration has issued a new edict directing the public as to the type of testimony they may and may not give public hearings. The Garcetti Administration only wants to hear people testify about how much they love to walk to mass transit. The Administration does not want to see any complaints about the lack of parking or traffic congestion.
Area Planning Commissioner Mark Dierking, who is employed by Metro, told the public that he did not want to see any testimony about parking and traffic congestion. Rather the public should confine their comments to support walking and taking buses. Commissioner Dierking, who is a Garcetti appointee, said:
. . . .[A]s a METRO Employee this is a block and a half away form the orange line station and I want to see people talking less about parking and cars and more about walking to the bus and I think we need to create trans-oriented development route projects..I’d love to see the 48-unit project. [bold added] Mark Dierking, July 14, 2016 South Valley Area Planning Commission
So, we have the official word — the public should not complain about lack of parking and traffic congestion, but instead they should support using buses. Never mind that many people are elderly and disabled, Commissioner Direking does not want to see those people appearing in from of him with their complaints. The financial needs of Metro are more important. Dierking only wants Boosterism for Buses.
L.A.’s Down With the Poor Philosophy
This edict came after a long hearing at the July 14, 2016 of the South Valley Area Planning Commission about the on-going destruction of of rent controlled units in Valley Village so that developers could construct expensive luxury units. At least nine (9) rent controlled units will be demolished as part of Mayor Garcetti’s on going campaign to destroy rent controlled apartments. Meanwhile, Garcetti pretends to champion the dispossessed by proposing that Angelenos give $1.2 BILLION to the developers who just tore down the homes of the poor.
There is something immoral about tearing down people’s homes and then posturing as their savior. If Garcetti cared about the elderly, the disabled and the poor, he would stop tearing down their homes.
With this project Garcetti is particularly aggressive — he is eliminating a street so that the developer will have more land on which to build. Presently, Weddington Avenue dead-ends about 300 feet west of Hermitage. That distance makes Weddington much more than a cul de sac. Vacating a street is a big step. Vacating a public street and giving it to one developer for a private project is a gift of public property to a friend of the mayor. In some places, elected officials giving away public property is called corruption.
It is bad enough that Garcetti gives away billions of our tax dollars to his developer buddies, but now he is actually giving away a city street so that more dense apartments can be constructed.
The Real Estate Shell Game
Here we need to delve into the newest real estate shell game. Wall Street has become reluctant to finance any more luxury apartments in Los Angeles due to our glut of recently constructed apartments. Los Angeles has a 12% vacancy rate in higher end apartments constructed in the last decade. In 2013, the city constructed 150% of what could be rented or sold. Thus, a new scam has arisen. Developers construct a string of garages over which they added 2 or 3 stories of apartments, but there’s a twist. Every two garage spaces are separate from the adjoining ones by about 6 to 12 inches. Then, the developer calls each separate two space garage with an apartment on top “a single family home.”
So why do developers go to this trouble to build an apartment complex and then divide it into “single family homes”? Answer: Sales. While Wall Street does not want to finance more apartments, there is believed to be a significant market of millionaire investors who need tax shelters. By calling the apartments “single family homes,” the developer can sell each unit as individual tax shelter.
The investors don’t care whether they pay over-market since they are looking for write offs against other qualifying income. While someone who owned the entire project could not financially survive as a landlord, these individual investors actually want properties to reduce their taxes. They expect that after they have sheltered 10 or 15 years of income, the value of these units will somehow have risen so that overall, they will make money.
While we can see why developers favor this financial ploy, the question Angelenos should ask, Why does the City support the destruction of neighborhoods in order to make a few developers and real estate investor wealthier? There are two answers:
(1) campaign contributions — now and in the future. Like most millionaires & billionaires, real estate developers know that they make the most money when they own our elected representatives — in the city councils, in the state assembly, and in the US Congress.
(2) Los Angeles is infected with the virus which leads many people to believe that we should be Manhattanized. The number one proponent of the Manhattanization of Los Angeles is Eric Garcetti. In real life, Garcetti is not the dapper politico you see on TV, but people who know him report that he’s a vicious and vindictive Napoleon who knows the wisdom of wiping out his enemies while demanding absolute loyalty to himself. He is very effective and has reportedly already raised over $2 Million for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry, if he needs more, there is more.
Ours is not to Question Why, But to Do or Die
So Angelenos you have been given your marching orders — no more complaints about parking and traffic. Instead, everyone is to sing in unison the praises of mass transit and Eric Garcetti’s Manhattanization. So directeth Commissioner Dierking.