Skid Row makes demands for LA city planners as rezoning looms

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- What should downtown Los Angeles look like in the year 2040?

The L.A. Department of City Planning estimates that, by then, 125,000 more people will need housing in the city center.

This potential flood of new neighbors is fueling concerns in Skid Row that low-income residents will be pushed out.

Advocates gathered Friday at Stanford Avenue and 5th Street, where a building that used to offer homeless services is now half-vacant.

They fear that buildings such as these will be converted into market-rate lofts with the city's rezoning plan, called "DTLA 2040." Advocates want the rezoning plan to include provisions for new affordable housing and anti-displacement protections.

"We are demanding that there be affordable housing set-asides in market-rate housing that would be in the rezoned areas," said Inner City Law Center official Jerry Jones, whose organization just issued a report on land use planning in Skid Row.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti explained that the city is trying to balance needs.

"We need to make sure the right zoning is in place to protect people who are there," he said. "This is their neighborhood, while we want to see economic prosperity as well."

The L.A. Department of City Planning says that the rezoning is still in the concept phase and the needs of Skid Row will be considered.

"It is focused on trying to preserve the existing network of affordable housing, social services and making sure that can continue to exist and grow," senior city planner Patricia Diefenderfer said.

Advocates say there is also much the city can do now, like steering landlords to open vacant buildings for homeless services.

"We definitely call for a vacancy tax as well when the downtown vacancy rate is 12 percent to 17 percent," L.A. Community Action Network official Steve Diaz said. "That is an unacceptable rate at this time of the homelessness crisis."

The L.A. Department of City Planning is welcoming community input at
Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.