NEWS: Reporting on another successful Virtual Regional Housing Workgroup!

Posted June 30th, 2020

The BizFed Institute in partnership with the Milken Institute and BizFed, hosted the second session of the joint virtual Regional Housing Workgroup Forum with the purpose of solving the housing crisis in our region on this past June 19th. There was a great mix of professionals including housing develop/builders, financial institutions, business associations, elected officials, non-profit executives, public affairs/lobbying firms, utilities, transportation, and many more thought leaders and stakeholders,  

This special workshop focused on building a financial toolkit to examine financial resources and strategies we can identify to help reduce the cost of building housing. The results of this forum will help serve as the foundational framework to build a Southern California focused ‘playbook’ with legislative policy strategies, and will bring everyone together to build consensus on direction and implementation. We were able to make substantive steps to accomplish that and we received great feedback that indicated that value was transferred and the time was well spent. 

Key Takeaways

Financial: there’s adefinite need for CRA type resources, subsidies, and opportunity zones to offset the high cost of building. Affordable housing can’t be built without these financial tools. The clear message was thatthere’s plenty of money to invest, we just need to collaborate to address removing the uncertainty in housing projects. 

Build “friendly” public policy: Most urban building projects have contamination issues, as a result with need to have CEQA streamlining as a primary goal along with complementary zoning. In order to get projects off the ground and continuing, we must have consensus between YIMBY, NIMBY such that there is no such thing as everyone getting everything their respective group wants. Consensus and collaboration key.Map of willing cities that can & will support new development: We must map out cities in the greater Los Angeles County area that welcome new building projects, and are willing to offer incentives like flexible zoning and taxes breaks. Transportation networks/hubs: There must be a strategy to try to locate housing close to jobs. We must also put together a strategy with incentives to locate housing near transportation hubs.    Building design: Housing must fit into the neighborhood housing inventory in order to get neighborhood approval and receptivity. This can mean SFR’s (with ADU’s), high density, gentle density, repurposed, mixed-use, modular, mobile and manufactured. Creativity is a good thing!  Affordable housing: There is a need for housing at all income levels. We realize that this means splitting up the percentage based on a workable financial model that allows for profitability and housing inventory for all. County and neighborhood median income must be factored into the definition of affordable. Labor: Modifying existing labor contracts will require negotiating with unions. Labor availability is always an issue, especially during COVID-19. Stable labor means consistency in effort. If we can do this, there will be jobs, with the hope of creating a residential workforce & competitive geographic wages.
Elected Officials & Public Agency Leaders: There was consensus for all this to fall in place that we must include elected officials: LA County Supervisors, Senators, Assemblymembers, Mayors, City Councils members, Metro, Metrolink, Utilities, etc. in the conversation. 
BizFed/Public Policy Help: We will not be able to clear a path without the ability to enact, change or modify public policy. With BizFed’s involvement, this becomes possible as many participants are BizFed board members and are well versed and capable of initiating the steps to make that happen. There was specific discussion around CEQA, AB 1385, and AB 1299 – consolidating the dozen funding programs into 5 at the Governor & State Treasurer level.

Thank you to our Participating Experts

  • Rick Cole – Former City Manager of Santa Monica & Former Mayor of Pasadena
  • Jennifer Hernandez – Partner, Holland & Knight
  • Scott Laurie – CEO, The Olson Homes
  • Jennifer McElyea  – Senior Managing Partner, Watt Companies
  • Joseph Dieguez – Vice President, Kosmont Companies
  • Adam Lane – Vice President of Programs, Los Angeles Business Council
  • Ed Manning – Partner, KP Public Affairs
  • Robert Sausedo – President/CEO, Community Build

As well as a very special THANK YOU to out panel moderators Kevin Klowden, BFI Vice Chair, Executive Director, Milken Institute and Matt Horton, Milken Institute, Director of Program & Policy.

Out next RegionalHousing Workgroup Session#3 – Practicing the Play: Learning and Developing Project Pilots will take place on September 10th with the objective being: Learning and using examples from other regions to develop local pilot projects that lead to multiple pipelines.

On behalf of BFI and our partners, we’d like to extend a very special THANK YOU to Steve PonTell and National CORE for making it possible to host this workshop via zoom!

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