“I feel that a lot of money is seeping into the neighborhood councils”… NC transparency questioned
Additionally, it appears that the committee – known as the LFNC Ad Hoc Committee on Housing Affordability – is co-chaired by someone with possible special interests, specifically Benton Heimsath, (left picture) who is an assistant project manager for AMCAL Multi-Housing, which builds both low-income and market-priced housing in California and Texas.
Additionally, Heimsath holds a leadership role in a voluntary organization called Abundant Housing LA, which advocates for the creation of density development – including that near public transportation in Los Angeles – less parking needs for new housing and describes its mission of “lots of new housing to bring down rents and help people get out of their cars and onto public transportation,” according to the organization’s website.
Abundant Housing LA also encourages its members, via its website, to get involved in local neighborhood councils, saying, “Earn locally by getting more involved in neighborhood councils…. Neighborhood councils are often dominated by NIMBYs [an acronym for “Not in My Backyard”] …but it looks like a temporary problem for us.
Los Angeles is in an ongoing affordable housing crisis, with an unprecedented number of homeless people living on the streets as the city and state seek to encourage developers to increase the number of low-income affordable housing units in exchange for relaxed market zoning requirements and high-end housing.
The current situation has created NIMBYs as well as YIMBYs – meaning “Yes, in my backyard” – those who support both low-income and market-priced housing and homeless shelters in their neighborhoods.
The need for an ad hoc committee on housing to advise the LFNC emerged after months of controversy, preliminary approvals, appeals, and final Los Angeles City Council approval of a commercial and residential development. from 97,000 square feet to mixed-use on Franklin and Western Avenues, according to current LFNC President Luke Klipp.
“There were a number of projects and affordability issues kept coming up,” Klipp said in an interview, “and our planning [and land use] committee and [governing board] don’t understand these different things.
According to Klipp, the ad hoc committee aimed to find “potential areas of agreement” on these contentious issues and then brief the board, which he said would ultimately “pick and choose or take nothing,” of the ad hoc committee. results.
According to Klipp, the committee has yet to present anything to the LFNC board.
According to a document created by the ad hoc committee, the committee has been involved since its formation last December in setting goals, research and learning, and conducting policy roundtables, all leading to this which he calls “the development of guidelines”, in April and the expected approval of these guidelines in the summer of 2018.
Calls for interested Los Feliz stakeholders to join the ad hoc committee were posted only on the CLPN’s Facebook page in October and December 2017, where there are believed to be 28 so-called “stakeholders”. , that is, a person who lives, works, owns property or belongs to a community organization, answered the call to complete a survey that will be considered for the committee.
A request for the LFNC to provide these surveys to interested persons was not provided on time.
But a handful answered the register‘s May 28 request to authenticate their status as a Los Feliz stakeholder, including Los Feliz resident and former LFNC chairman Ron Ostrow, who said he originally joined the committee but later resigned , in part because of his displeasure.
“The committee wasn’t focused on what I thought it would do. I expected the committee to create a guide for the LFNC to help it develop a holistic approach to neighborhood-based development. Instead, it focuses on increasing housing supply, not analyzing how affordable housing would/could/should fit into the neighborhood,” Ostrow said in a statement. E-mail.
Alex Kondracke, also a Los Feliz resident, said she also applied to serve on the ad hoc committee and attended its first meeting.
But, she said, she was never invited back, which she assumed was due to her views on building denser housing in Los Feliz. She was one of many to appeal the Planning Commission’s approval of the development of Western and Franklin Avenues.
“I’ve been pretty candid about this project and others,” she said.
Kondracke is also president of the Los Feliz Improvement Assoc. the zoning committee of the (LFIA). The LFIA recently filed a complaint against the city for its approval of this project.
“I feel like a lot of money is flowing into neighborhood councils, which are supposed to speak on behalf of the community,” Kondracke said. “Then [developers] can say that the community has no objection to a project…and then they can do whatever they want without obstacles.
Thomas Brent Gaisford (left picture), Director, Abundant Housing LA Gaisford, along with Heimsath, created a list of “Pro Housing” candidates for the recent May 2018 CLPN election and distributed them near the polling station. Photo: Abundant Housing LA website.
Additionally, Heimsath and Thomas Brent Gaisford, who is the director of Abundant Housing LA and co-founder of Upwell Real Estate Group and Treehouse Co-Living, who currently has a construction project in East Hollywood at 5842 Carlton Way whose completion expected in 2019 – distributed flyers near the LFNC’s May 12 polling station for their election at the Elysian Masonic Lodge on Vermont Avenue. However, the location where the couple handed out flyers was far enough from the polling station not to violate election rules.
The leaflet asked potential voters to “support these pro-housing candidates” and then listed the candidates for the council’s nine open seats. Ultimately, five of these nine candidates were elected, although two of the candidates ran unopposed.
According to one winner, Meggan Ellingboe, who upset longtime council holder Mark F. Mauceri for the council recreation seat, she was unaware she had been approved by Abundant Housing LA.
“I was not aware of the slate or approached beforehand,” she said in an email. “I discovered the slate… after the election.”
Contestant Josh Steichmann, who didn’t win but was on the plentiful housing list, said in an email that he also didn’t know he had been endorsed by the group, but was happy to have agreed as it is for more accommodations in Los Feliz.
A request for information from Heimsath and Gaisford on how Abundant Housing LA chose its endorsements was not returned.
Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles certified the May 2018 council election on Friday, May 25.
A total of 617 ballots were cast in the election out of 40,000 eligible voters.
Those on the Abundant Housing LA list who won were Evanne Holloway in District A with 28 votes; Céline Vacher for Business Rep with 245 votes; Michael Hain, who ran unopposed, for public health and safety with 433 votes; Erica Vilardi-Espinosa, who also ran unopposed for education with 440 votes and Meggan Ellingboe who ousted Mauceri, who is also council vice-chairman, by 14 votes with a total of 173.
Other winners not on the list were: Hanna Claesson-Assad in District B with 48 votes; incumbent Bryan Cassadore in District C with 93 votes; Nick Schultz in district D with 60 votes and Giuseppe Asaro in district E with 25 votes.
Six challenges or requests for a recount of the election were filed by three candidates and Kondracke.
Concerns included illegal campaigning, possible disparities between ballot registrations and votes cast, and possible campaigning by Abundant Housing LA
However, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, which helped with the election and certification of the results, rejected all but one of the challenges. In their findings, they concluded that District C winner Bryan Cassadore may have campaigned illegally while wearing an official LFNC badge on a lanyard around his neck.
The league, however, said photographic evidence showing Cassadore at Our Mother of Good Counsel school wearing the logo while students there filled out registrations to vote, was not conclusive enough to disqualify him and recommended that the league case is rather dealt with by the board of directors of the LFNC.
“The [league] recommends that the LFNC election committee examine the contestation submitted and [the] conclusions of the [league] to decide if it warrants reprimanding nominee Bryan Cassadore,” the league wrote in a letter of determination to the board.
UPDATE: After the LFNC was challenged last week by the registerRegarding violations of the Brown Law by the ad hoc committee on housing affordability, Heimsath – the co-chair of the ad hoc committee – began posting, on May 28, information related to the committee on the LFNC website. Additionally, other ad hoc committees previously not posted on the website have also been listed over the past few days, sometimes backdated by several months.
Additionally, CLPN was listed on a website called YIMBYwiki, an “open site for YIMBY and housing issues.” . . related to creating more inclusive, affordable and equitable housing and communities. In response to the Register’s inquiry into when and by whom the LFNC was placed on the wiki site, YIMBYwiki founder Tim McCormick, of Oakland CA responded on May 30, 2018: “[The LFNC] was apparently added in October 2016… I can’t remember the specifics, but I suspect someone from [the LFNC] attended the first YIMBYtown conference in 2016, from which we used attendees’ listed affiliations to tentatively start the directory. Today, Luke Klipp from [LFNC] sent me an email noting this addition and [asked] that it be removed, which I will do shortly as a matter of policy.
The LFNC was the only Los Angeles neighborhood council listed on the site. However, also listed on the YIMBYwiki site is “Westwood Forward”, a pro-development group, also supported by Abundant Housing LA, which successfully advocated for the Westwood Neighborhood Council to be split in two in an election in May 2018. .
YIMBYwiki is supported by a 2017 grant from Better Boulder, a group advocating “infill development,” “smart growth,” and “well-designed density,” and the Boulder Area Realtors Assoc., both of Colorado.
As of May 31, the LFNC notation has been removed from the YIMBYwiki page.
A request for comment from Klipp, president of the LFNC, was not returned.
This story was last updated on May 31, 2018 at 7:53 a.m.
This story was updated May 31, 2018, 10:42 a.m. to include photos of Benton Heimsath and Thomas Brent Gaisford.
(Allison B. Cohen is the editor of The Los Feliz Ledger where this special report comes from.)