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Who’s Killing Your Neighborhood? It’s Not a Mystery Anymore

For the last 18 months I tracked how the city dealt with the illegal conversion of a single-family home into a three-apartment tenement and wrote it as a 16-part mystery called “Whodunit: Who’s Killing My Neighborhood?”

Now, I learn from a second-hand viral email with the subject line “Accessory Dwelling Units” that it isn’t a mystery at all.

The City of Los Angeles is killing my neighborhood of single-family homes — and yours, too.

The email originated from Sylvia Lacy, senior deputy in Councilman Herb Wesson’s 10th District Field Office.

Hello to all, the attached notices are concerning the accessory dwelling
unit outreach in preparation for the City of Los Angeles to draft an
ordinance to comply with SB 1866 (sic AB 1866).  Questions should go to  Gabriela
Juárez at or  (213) 978-1337.
If you have any comments or concerns please send them to me. If your
neighborhood or Neighborhood Council has taken a position, please let me
know.  Thanks
Sylvia Lacy

Here are the attachments (FAQs.pdf), (WorkshopNotice.pdf), (INTERIM DEPARTMENTAL GUIDELINES FOR ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS.pdf).

The FAQ from the Planning Department explained clearly what an accessory dwelling unit is:

Q:. What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?
A:  An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also referred to as a granny flat, secondary dwelling unit, cottage housing opportunity {ECH0), or other-daughter residence, is an apartment that can be located within the walls of an existing or newly constructed single-family home or can be an add-on to an existing home.It can also be a freestanding structure on the same lot as the principal dwelling or the conversion of a garage or a barn.

In other words, the tenement conversion in my neighborhood is about to become legal in every neighborhood in the city — every neighborhood except those “in a Hillside area, Equinekeeping District, along a Scenic Highway designated in the General Plan, or where the width of the adjacent street is substandard,” according to the Interim Guidelines.

Unbelievable, I thought. Now, I almost feel sorry for the couple that got fined $10,000 for converting the house in my neighborhood into a three-apartment tenement. It turns about they were premature and not greedy enough. If they had waited until this is enacted,  they could have filled in the swimming pool in back and put up another building with two more units for a total of five.

The person who sent me Sylvia Lacy’s email sounded this alarm: “To add to the seemingly endless number of issues we must consider. It looks like the state mandated “granny flats” within R1 areas (with some limitations – see attached). It looks to me like this is one step toward the elimination of true single-family neighborhoods.”

It’s been coming for a while.

The state legislation that makes this possible was AB  1866, a density bonus/affordable housing measure that took effect July 1 2003 with bipartisan support and the support of then Assemblymen Paul Koretz and Herb Wesson and then Sen. Richard Alarcon — all now City Council members.

The FAQ from the Planning Department says this measure is being developed “in response” to AB 1866. No one should be misled by the phrase into thinking the legislation “requires” the city to destroy single-family home neighborhoods. Here’s what the law says:

SEC. 2.  Section 65852.2 of the Government Code is amended to read:65852.2.  (a) (1) Any local agency may, by ordinance, provide for the creation of second units in single-family and multifamily residential zones.

“MAY” — that’s the operative word.

So the City of LA is doing this because it wants to. It is exempting “hillside” neighborhoods because it wants to.

Understand, this is the same Planning Department that wants to increase the fees for homeowners and community groups to appeal its decisions on development projects by up to 2,000 percent.

It already has held two public meetings on this at the Yucca Community Center and the Braude Constituent Services Center and plans only one more on Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 am – 2 pm at the David M. Gonzales/Pacoima Recreation Center, 10943 Herrick Avenue in Arleta.

The workshop notice says that for more information, please contact Gabriela Juárez at (213) 978-1337 or by email at

Can there be any doubt that the city is at war with the middle class, with home owners, with the ordinary people who pay most of the city’s bills?

Aren’t there laws against this sort of discriminatory conduct? Doesn’t the Constitution protect us all equally from the actions of government?

I guess it really is time to move as so many people are saying. Or to fight.

It’s a lousy time to sell a house so fight we must — or maybe just convert our houses in tenements, reap the profits and let the city go to hell.

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12 Responses to Who’s Killing Your Neighborhood? It’s Not a Mystery Anymore

  1. Sandy Sand says:

    What difference does it make? The City is already deeply buried in the proverbial hand basket that carries things to hell. The only thing left to do is throw dirt over it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Opportunity? Diversity? No, it is usury, it is greed. It is importing crime.
    Slandering those who live quietly and mind their
    own business by calling them names will not work.
    It is also dangerous. One of my neighbors came
    home yesterday to find her home ransacked with some things missing. That is only one of the downsides of overcrowding.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why aren’t the workshops held in locations closer to single family neighborhood? None on the Westside? None in Northeast LA?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This granny flat plan needs to be deep sixed. But it will not happen unless the Council hears from constituents. So you better organize, organize, organize.

  5. KK says:

    Does it make a difference if the lot size is a minimum of 7,500 feet?

  6. LA Moderator says:

    I know it’s just cruel irony…
    Growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the Rio Grande just a short drive from El Paso, so I remember fondly the occastional shopping trips across the bridge to Ciudad Juarez.
    Traveling by train last June through Texas, I looked with nostalgia to the Left, and felt sad that well-thought urban planning was not more thoroughly adopted.
    We continue to see medium density, low income housing uprooted, replaced by higher, more expensive condos…with less low income units and less parking. So now the solution is to provide for densification of single family homes? What is this, sour grapes for Proposition 13? If you can’t raise property tax assements, are they dragging down actual value for spite?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ron Kaye, what an idiot. You say that the City of Los Angeles is killing your neighborhood? What a cop-out.
    Do you know who is killing your neighborhood? You go to the Planning Department, then go to the enforcement officer who is responsible for acting on the complaint. That person, or his immediate supervisor is nullifying, through inaction or hindering action, any effort to stop these atrocities.
    It’s quite simple, actually. You’re just too PC to say it.
    BTW, half of Tujunga is hillside (more than 15% slope). And, some areas that are LESS THAN 15% slope UNSCRUPULOUSLY designated as hillside, which are (in reality) not a hillside. IT’S ALL A CORRUPT, SCAM, promulgated by the CITY PLANNERS as to which areas of the city they want to DESTROY.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You know this will be approved. The city has a Planning Director who just a year back approved an anti-mansionazation ordinance, and is now doing the very opposite by turning single-family neighborhoods into multiple-family. The Mayor’s lackeys on the Planning Commission and the developer’s point man Ed Reyes, head of PLUM, will quickly expedite it. Why don’t we just toss out the Municipal Code. It is worthless.

  9. submeter maid says:

    Although I would agree with 7:08 AM, I would also add focus, focus, focus.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sao Paulo, here we come.

  11. I do not drop many responses, however i did some searching and wound up here Who’s Killing Your Neighborhood? It’s Not a Mystery Anymore | Ron Kaye L.A.. And I do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it give the impression like a few of these comments look like they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of all your community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  12. Russell Gould says:

    Ron, don’t pretend to be speaking for the public interest, your just spouting the same elitist NIMBYism that we’re all familiar with. It’s an unjust situation that most planning ordinances currently force lower income people into large, far-flung, and badly placed apartment buildings. Althouh you support such exclusionary policies, it’s not your city, and you have no claim to the status quo. I applaud the planning dept and city council for making this much needed change to OUR city. It is a step in the right direction, and hopefully there is more to come. Density is good: lower cost, more dynamic, more sustainable, more choice.

    Russell Gould

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