Today the City Council of Los Angeles will review the results of a public hearing recently held to get public comment about turning the Frontier Hotel (aka the Rosslyn Lofts) into subsidized housing instead of the additional workforce/artist oriented for housing the present owner was planning. This rehabed affordable housing was in addition to the already finished units in the building, most of which are rented by people who walk to work, thus reducing traffic congestion at no cost to the public.
But instead of allowing this process to continue, the CRA now wants to give millions of dollars to a politically connected developer to destroy the proposed workforce housing and make it subsidized housing rather than creating new subsidized income housing without taking workforce housing off the market.
This is a perfect example of why this city has a housing crisis. Political posturing is always more important than solving the problem.
Now as for what the public had to say about this at the... public... meeting - oddly enough - no one showed up to testify.
Not one person.
That was because the notice of the meeting was paid advertisement in an obscure legal newspaper. This despite the fact there is a free local list-serv that covers the area, a neighborhood council in the area, a business improvement district in that area, a Main Street Association for the area, a CRA CDBG committee for that area and two arts organizations that represent galleries located in that very building.
And yet news of this public meeting was deliberately hidden from each one of these organizations.
That was because when it comes to anything the CRA does in our neighborhood - the fix was in and everything that could legally done to keep the public from finding about the 'public' meeting - or what was being done - was done.
Even worse, though, than the loss of an artist/neighborhood oriented project - is the potential death blow to the still vulnerable Gallery Row District centered at 5th and Main. Three galleries are already located in the building - the most located in any building in the area - and two more much needed galleries necessary to create the needed critical mass, have been waiting to sign leases as soon as the CRA approved the previously negotiated deal to turn the building into workforce housing - at no cost to the taxpayers.
Now, though, a potential new owner trying to buy the building will be required to offer rents far below marker rate with his millions of dollars in subsidies; that developer will then need the income from the retail spaces - that the current owner has given to the galleries at well below market rates – to be dramatically raised and that will not only preclude the signing of the two new galleries - but it will likely force the existing galleries to close.
And yet the city proclaims one of its top priorities is the creation of cultural tourism while the city’s main redevelopment agency and the city’s development projects, increasingly, seem dedicated to destroying the galleries of Gallery Row.
Now I’d like to say I am optimistic that this can be satisfactorily resolved – but from all my past experiences in dealing with the CRA - I would be lying.