Yesterday was a busy day for City Councilmember Nithya Raman, who introduced three new motions relating to her main area of interest: homelessness and affordable housing. One of those motions, however, targeting a specific site in the Miracle Mile neighborhood for a new supportive housing or 100% affordable housing development, has already raised concerns at one of its nearest neighbors, the Cathedral Chapel School, which sits just across Cochran Ave. from the proposed development site.
The three housing-related motions Raman introduced yesterday were:
- A request that the city research and develop a process to shorten review and appeal periods for housing projects that include 100% affordable units, prioritize 100% affordable projects over other types of housing developments, and – as is currently the case with projects built under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities guidelines – approve 100% affordable projects with only an administrative review and sign-off, without a larger, slower, community review.
- A request that the City Administrative Officer study a city-owned vacant lot at 1905 N. Highland Ave. as a potential site for a permanent supportive housing development or 100% affordable development.
- A request that the City Administrative Officer study a city-owned parking lot at 728 S. Cochran Ave. as a potential site for a permanent supportive housing development or 100% affordable development.
In a press release announcing the motions, Raman said “In conversations across the district, we’ve heard a common theme: LA needs more affordable places for people to live.”
“Our office has sought out sites for affordable and supportive housing, as well as policy strategies to build more of these units,” Raman said. “We’ve seen with programs like Transit Oriented Communities and permanent supportive housing streamlining that if we want to shift the housing landscape toward affordability, we need to explicitly prioritize affordability.”
Emily Uyeda Kantrim, a member of the Mid Town Homeless Coalition and a Mid City West resident, who also helped organize this year’s Mid City West homeless count, was also quoted in Raman’s media statement praising the recommendations. “It’s exciting to have a real response to our neighborhood needs with two properties that will not displace any current residents and situate affordable housing within existing neighborhoods, where they belong,” Kantrim said. “Permanent supportive housing to serve our Angelenos most in need in neighborhoods that are walkable and accessible to public transit is exactly what we need for Los Angeles to flourish.”
But while Raman also said yesterday that “I’m very excited to work with city departments, builders, community organizations and residents to make sure these developments are assets to their communities and to the whole district,” at least one nearby neighbor wasn’t so thrilled.
Tina Kipp, principal of Cathedral Chapel School, which sits just across Cochran Ave. from the parking lot at 728, told the Buzz today that she is “very concerned” about the proposal, and that she is “very upset that we were not consulted before this motion was put into play by the Council.”
Kipp noted that she heard through the grapevine a while ago that such a proposal was being considered by CD4. But when she brought it up to Raman at a recent meeting of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, Kipp said, Raman did not seem familiar with the location and said she would look into it. After that, Kipp said she repeatedly asked Raman’s office for a community meeting to address her concerns, which include both neighborhood safety and parking for school staff and parents, but Raman told Kipp she did not want to meet with neighbors, and finally agreed to meet only with Kipp, a few other school officials, and a representative from the Archdiocese.
Kipp said that meeting took place on Tuesday, but at that point Raman said she had already submitted the motion that was formally introduced yesterday, so there was little she could do. Kipp said Raman’s assistant, Andrea Conant, promised to get back to the school with a “fact sheet” about the housing proposal, and a possible community meeting date…but so far, Kipp said, she hasn’t heard anything further, and “I’m not a happy camper right now.”
As noted above, Kipp says she has two main concerns about the housing proposal. First, safety – both for the school’s students and for a group of retired nuns who live in a converted convent adjacent to the school. And second, parking. According to Kipp, the school used to lease staff parking spaces behind another Miracle Mile building, and when that space was taken for nearby construction staging, they moved some staff parking to the school yard, while leasing the rest of their needed spaces in the lot at 728 S. Cochran. If that lot is taken away, Kipp said, several staff members will have nowhere to park near the school, since there are no other leasable lots nearby, and the adjacent residential area has permit parking, which isn’t available to school employees.
Of course, as Raman also said in her statement yesterday, “Exploring a possible site for supportive or affordable housing is just the first step in a long process toward getting a project built,” and the motions have now been sent to various City Council Committees for further review, discussions, and public hearings (yet to be agendized) before any type of votes are taken.