Green space is one of the strongest indicators of a thriving community—but new investments too often spark speculative investment that drives gentrification. Here’s how LA ROSAH is working to ensure that communities can add healthy spaces without increasing displacement.
In Los Angeles, as well as cities across the nation, new parks have become so synonymous with displacement and other negative changes that residents and some tenants’ rights organizations have resisted park improvements altogether. LA ROSAH members have successfully worked with public agencies to implement anti-displacement policies in large regional green infrastructure initiatives.
Measure A is a countywide parcel tax for parks and open space in LA County. Measure A provides nearly $100 million a year in revenues for park projects across the county and includes a specific set-aside for projects in park-poor areas, some of which are currently experiencing rapid change and green gentrification. In 2019, LA ROSAH scored its first major policy victory with the passage of the Displacement Avoidance Policy as part of the expenditure plan within Measure A. LA ROSAH members partnered with the county agency tasked with managing the Measure A funds to draft a policy to incentivize collaboration between parks and housing sectors. This includes strategies to support joint community education and outreach, data collection, and technicalLos assistance.
Los Angeles County is investing billions of dollars from Measures W, H, A, and M in clean, safe water, housing and homeless services, parks and open space, transportation, and climate resilience. These projects have the potential to transform our quality of life in Los Angeles County. The LA County Board of Supervisors created a WHAM Taskforce to ensure that the agencies implementing these measures collaborate on multibenefit projects to uplift communities hardest hit by Covid-19 and build resilience equitably across the county.
Following the passage of the Measure A Displacement Avoidance Policy, LA ROSAH members worked with members of the Our Water LA coalition and County Board of Supervisors to incorporate a similar policy for Measure W. After the Measure W Displacement Avoidance Policy was adopted, the Board of Supervisors decided to take the next step and expand the policies to include two additional revenue measures – H and M and to incorporate racial equity strategies into the expenditure plans.
LA ROSAH members are currently working on implementation of the WHAM motion with the Board of Supervisors’ offices and the county agencies charged with overseeing the WHAM funds.
The LA River flows through a 51-mile connected public open space that integrates with its neighboring communities. Nearly half of Los Angeles County residents live within the river’s watershed. In the late 19th and early 20th century the River was channelized to manage flood risk, curtailing its ecological and natural beauty. The 2020 Los Angeles River Master Plan seeks to build on prior planning efforts to continue to reimagine the LA River from a single-use corridor to a tangible, multi-benefit resource for the communities of LA County.
LA ROSAH members spent several years advocating for displacement avoidance strategies, partnered with the County to incorporate a housing chapter in the draft plan, and we are currently working with the County’s team on implementation.
A Land Bank is an organization formed to quickly acquire and temporarily hold land for future redevelopment. Most land banks are quasi-public agencies, however some are independent, nonprofit agencies funded by local governments. There are over 179 land banks in the United States. LA ROSAH believes that land banking can bring multiple benefits in communities where residents are at risk of displacement and where infrastructure investments are being planned and targeted, such as the LA River. Acquiring land for the preservation and/or development of affordable homes as a foundation of other infrastructure investment, particularly with linear projects (such as linear parks, transit, or river projects) can increase housing stability in the community and help prevent unwelcomed displacement. The protection that affordable housing preservation or production offers is made particularly stronger when coupled with other displacement protections and policies.
Recognizing the potential of proposed improvements to raise the land and housing prices along the Los Angeles River, the LA River Master Plan advocates for the formation of a land bank in order to retain the composition of existing communities and proactively create more permanently affordable housing along the river – either by preserving existing lower cost housing or by building new affordable housing before improvements to the river are made.
LA ROSAH members are working in partnership with the LA River Master Plan’s consultant team to establish the land bank. We are meeting with the County board of supervisors to include seed funding for the land bank in the county’s budget as well as through the County’s allocation of federal COVID-19 recovery funding.