live / 2020

Boulevards of Opportunity for Affordable Housing

Boulevards of Opportunity for Affordable Housing

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Move LA, a project of Community Partners

Our “Boulevards of Opportunity for Affordable Housing” project will promote policies enabling affordable multifamily housing in mixed-use developments with robust urban greening and bike/pedestrian improvements along commercial boulevards served by zero-emission bus rapid transit (BRT). We will reach out to advocates, cities, and agencies to create an implementation strategy, and find a city or Council of Governments willing to begin a process that would result in a model boulevard of opportunity, stage symposiums and publish a how-to manual.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • Gateway Cities

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • UrbanFootprint

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

MLA is partnering with a company called UrbanFootprint, to provide graphic GIS mapping and evaluative services that can help determine the potential for housing and transit ridership using various development scenarios along boulevards of opportunity. UrbanFootprint was founded by two acclaimed industry professionals, Peter Calthorpe and Joe DiStefano to help cities and businesses tackle the biggest planning, mobility, and market challenges of the 21st century. The State of California has partnered with UrbanFootprint to provide the software to more than 500 cities, counties, and regional agencies. We will use this software to facilitate community development assessments at our symposiums and reports to focus attention on two boulevards.

What is the need you’re responding to?

LA County needs thousands of affordable housing units near transit. But rather than displacing our neighbors and gentrifying communities, we should create verdant new neighborhoods on tree-lined “boulevards of opportunity” with moderate-density mixed-use development and housing affordable to people who are low and very-low income or homeless. LA is served by many boulevards that were once key contributors to local economies but are now marginalized, where properties are relatively inexpensive. Measure M set aside $2 billion to build bus rapid transit (BRT) along a dozen such corridors, providing an opportunity to revitalize them as appealing neighborhoods where transit riders can live. The Southern California Association of Governments once identified such boulevards as our most significant housing opportunity because they would allow us to meet our housing needs on just 2% of the region’s land. LA County’s affordable housing crisis compels renewed attention to this opportunity.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

Move LA has successfully engaged civic leaders and organizations and formed coalitions to address countywide issues before, e.g. Measures R (‘08) and M (‘16) to provide $120 billion for transit, and Measure H (‘17) to provide $360 million/year for housing and services for the homeless. Using boulevards of opportunity to address the affordable housing crisis marries our knowledge of transit and affordable housing policies and our familiarity with the tools of local government. Because funding will be needed to improve these boulevards, Move LA sponsored SB 961 (Sen. Allen), signed into law in 2018, to enable cities to create redevelopment-style districts along transit corridors. With our deep understanding of community development, our successful history working to build robust and durable coalitions, and our understanding of how to leverage public funds, we are uniquely positioned to show cities how to do it and create a model program for others to learn from.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

500
Direct impact
1,200,000
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

There is a serious need in LA County for housing that is affordable to very-low, low and moderate-income families, and people who are homeless. “Boulevards of opportunity” can be part of the solution to this need by enabling multifamily housing development along commercial boulevards in verdant, transit-oriented neighborhoods where none now exist. Ensuring affordable housing is included on commercial boulevards redesigned so we can travel on foot, bike or use transit will enable low-income people and other residents —and everyone who visits—to get to jobs, parks, to see the doctor, or visit family or friends without driving. This will reduce air pollution and GHG emissions and help make our cities safer, more equitable and sustainable.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

We will consider our work successful if our outreach to cities results in at least one city or Council of Governments (COG) expressing interest in a boulevard planning process that can become a model for other cities. Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane had this experience when he was mayor of Santa Monica in the 1980s and led the revitalization of the city’s derelict downtown, turning it into the very successful Third Street Promenade and earning the attention of cities across the U.S. We intend to begin work with cities, the COGs, the Southern California Association of Governments and LA Metro to identify the right boulevards, develop model land-use policies allowing mixed-use multifamily development in these places, and figure out how funding tools like SB 961, the state’s Cap & Trade program, and local and county funding can be leveraged to turn land along these boulevards into neighborhoods that are desirable, affordable, walkable, bikeable and green, and with easy access to high-quality BRT lines. In order to achieve success we’ll also engage community leaders and advocates, resiliency experts, academics, planners, and affordable and market-rate developers. We’ll stage 2 symposiums to engage everyone in dialogue about the policy changes and strategies that will be required, and we’ll write a well-designed publication to share that identifies successful policies, tools and strategies for community development along these boulevards of opportunity.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Housing affordability
  • Air quality
  • Homelessness

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support
  • Office space for meetings, events, or for staff