Chinatown Stands in Opposition to the Elysian Park Lofts Proposal
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To Erin Strelich, City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning
CHINATOWN STANDS IN STRONG OPPOSITION OF ELYSIAN PARK LOFTS
We are concerned residents and supporters of the Chinatown community. We are writing to remind the City of Los Angeles, S & R Partners, and Lincoln Property Company that Chinatown is built by multi-ethnic low-income immigrants. 65% of the population identifies as Asian while 25% identifies as Latino. More than 64% are born outside of the United States. All development proposals and city planning processes in Chinatown should be culturally appropriate and attentive to the community’s social, economic, and cultural needs.
After reviewing the proposal for “Elysian Park Lofts” (“Project”) as a community, we stand in strong opposition to this development for the following reasons:
- The developer has done an unacceptably poor job of outreach and communication with the Chinatown community.
- None of the units in the planned development are affordable for Chinatown residents despite the community’s median household income is less than $19,000.
- There are no units or amenities accessible to seniors despite seniors making up at least 20% of our community.
- There are no open community spaces for families planned aside from market-rate commercial spaces for restaurants and retail shops.
- The request for a 14- and a 13-story building will bring high traffic and environmental pollution to Chinatown, one of the few pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It is a community already impacted heavily by air pollution and health disparities.
- The 920 market-rate housing units in the proposed development will increase the rent of current Chinatown residents who have already been facing a significant number of evictions and displacement over the past five years.
To reiterate, the proposed development will negatively impact all of Chinatown. Here is a detailed breakdown of our concerns and demands:
- Poor Outreach Effort and Lack of Community Engagement -
A project that develops 920 or more housing units, excluding townhouses and commercial units, will not only impact the residents and businesses within 500 square feet of its proposed site but the entire Chinatown community. Sending notices only within 500 square feet of the proposed project creates a de facto barrier for informed civic engagement and public input in the planning process. It is clear that the majority of Chinatown’s population were not notified of the Project, its Initial Study and Public Scoping Meeting.
We demand that there be substantive community outreach and engagement in every step of the planning process in regards to the Project and all other development proposals within or nearby Chinatown. Notices for each stage of the Project should be sent to every residential and commercial unit in Chinatown.
- Inaccessible Language Leads to Exclusion of Community Input -
The Project has so far failed to accommodate the community’s language needs, creating a major barrier for residents to actively engage in the planning process and voice their concerns regarding this major development proposal. The initial Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report and Public Scoping Meeting was written in English despite the non-English language needs of the majority of the population. Over 60% of Chinatown residents who speak another language at home report speaking English less than “very well.”
The Notice of Preparation states under “ACCOMMODATIONS”:
“Other services, such as translation between English and other languages, may also be provided upon written request submitted a minimum of seven (7) working days in advance to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to identify the language you need English to be translated into, and indicate if the request is for oral or written translation services.”
Residents who require non-English language assistance would not have been able to read this passage in the first place or have understood the topic of the notice.
On one statement at the very bottom of the notice states in Spanish: “Puede obtener información en Español acerca de esta junta llamando al (213) 978-1300.” This is not sufficient. It provides no contextual information regarding what the meeting is about.
We demand that the Department of City Planning must ensure the planning process is inclusive and accessible to the Chinatown community. All documents including, but not limited to the Initial Study, Draft and Final Environmental Impact Report, and notices should be prepared not only in English but in Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer, and other languages spoken by the majority of Chinatown residents and workers.
- 100% Market-Rate Housing / 0% Affordable Housing for Chinatown Residents -
We strongly oppose The Elysian Park Lofts Proposal because it has zero units that the Chinatown community can afford. Its 100% Market Rate Housing will exclude low-income immigrants. It will contribute to further displacement of residents who live throughout Chinatown and long-established small businesses that operate here. The potential impacts of direct and indirect displacement should be analyzed and addressed in the Environmental Impact Report.
With the median household income being less than $19,000, Chinatown is in dire need of more stable and quality low-income housing. Renters make up 95% of the population, which is significantly larger than Los Angeles’s 46%. More than half of residents are rent burdened, spending more than 30% of their household income on rent. The majority of residents cannot afford market-rate housing.
With the housing affordability crisis faced by Chinatown and surrounding communities, we demand that 100% of units be made available at low-income levels reflective of Chinatown’s residents and their median household income.
- No Units or Amenities for Seniors -
Seniors (65 years and older) make up 20% of the population in Chinatown, which is significantly larger than Los Angeles’s 11%. This population is expected to increase. The Elysian Park Loft Proposal fails to include any units for seniors, or amenities oriented to seniors’ needs. We demand low-income housing and culturally appropriate amenities for seniors so that they can continue living with dignity in the community that they built and sustained.
- Detrimental Environmental Impact including Traffic Safety and Air Pollution -
We oppose the Project’s request for zone change and building height greater than specified in LAMC Section 12.21.1.A.1. Building heights of 13- and 14-stories will damage the integrity of the neighborhood and area of Chinatown neighboring Lincoln Heights and the view from Los Angeles Historic Park. The construction and development will undoubtedly increase congestion on Spring Street and other local streets, causing problems with the traffic. Many seniors cross these streets and would increase risks of accidents from more traffic.
Until all of these issues are addressed above, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, members of the Chinatown community, and our supporters will strongly oppose the Elysian Park Lofts development.
Recent media coverage of the community's strong opposition.
Chinatown Community for Equitable Development and supporters
Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) is a multi-ethnic and intergenerational organization based in Chinatown Los Angeles. Since 2012, we have been building grassroots power with low-income and immigrant communities through organizing tenants and defending their rights to quality housing. Our members include residents of Chinatown and Lincoln Heights, particularly low-income renters and workers that make up the majority of our community.
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