Mayor Karen Bass releases update on plans to use city-owned land for housing

Mayor Karen Bass on Tuesday, May 16, released an update on her plan to identify city-owned lands that could be used for interim and permanent housing, as well as “next steps and timelines” to scale up the plan.

“Part of urgently addressing this crisis is identifying land to build housing in ways we haven’t before, which will bring the overall cost of housing (for) Angelenos down and it also allows us to act quicker,” Bass said in a statement.

“Today’s report shows groundbreaking progress in our effort and I look forward to continuing collaboration with all levels of government as we work to bring our unhoused neighbors inside.”

In February, Bass signed Executive Directive No. 3, which required that the City Administrative Officer deliver a comprehensive inventory of city-owned assets to determine which sites could be used for interim or permanent housing development.

Potential sites are still being sorted through.

Monday, in a letter addressed to “My Fellow Colleagues and Angelenos,” Bass wrote, “Members of my staff have filtered sites in the hillside, heavy industrial areas, parks and developed and occupied sites to review more than 3,300 parcels, and have worked with my Council colleagues to identify potential sites for future development.

“After this review, and in examining the City’s historic and current approach to developing housing on its lands, I am recommending that we take this moment to be bigger and bolder, and rethink how we utilize City parcels and financing resources to scale up the development of affordable housing.”

While noting that, “over the past years, the City of Los Angeles has made strides getting more affordable and supportive housing built,” Bass added, “it is no secret that these projects often require significant investments of time and staff hours to get done

“Sites are identified and vetted one by one, often taking months or even years to analyze and determine whether they are suitable for affordable and supportive housing,” she wrote. “We can, and must, do better.”

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Bass released three timelines for building housing on city-owned land:

— Immediately, she called for identifying city sites for the development of up to 500 interim housing units, called Emergency Sleeping Cabins, in partnership with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to install 1,200 interim units across the state;

— In the next six months, organizing working groups to develop “clear and consistent standards for identifying surplus and underutilized land that is suitable for both interim shelter and affordable housing on a permanent and ongoing,” and,

— From the start of the fiscal year on July 1 through January 2025, initiating “a new program to explore innovative ways to scale up affordable housing development on publicly owned land.” Among the ideas she put forth were possibly grouping sites for primary developers; exploring non-traditional financing, and engaging with regional public agencies.

“My focus over the remainder of my first term in office will be to make the disposition and development of city-owned land faster, cheaper and more streamlined, and to innovate in the financing and delivery of affordable housing without reliance on traditional subsidy methods,” Bass wrote.

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