My well-rounded knowledge and experience as an elected LA City Official and my volunteer involvement with other groups has prepared me to hit the ground running on day one fighting for working class people in District 13 and throughout the city. Now is the time for bold action!
“We do not have a housing crisis, we have a low-income housing crisis, and trickle-down housing has not worked and never will.” ~ RRL
The median income for folks living in CD13 is a little under $25k per year. Because of real estate speculation by predatory developers and corporate landlords, the average rent in the city is whopping $2563.00 per month for a one-bedroom. This means far too many people are being priced out of the market, living in overcrowded conditions, or are severely rent burdened. And City Hall’s response? Entice these free-market speculators with insufficient incentives. Right now on average, for every 10 market rate units built, only 1 low-income unit is created. Bottom line: we have more than enough market rate units and too few low-income units with no viable plan on how to fix it coming from City Hall.
One of the fallacies at play is the idea the free-market will create the quantity of low-income housing we need by building market rate units for people to “step up into” thereby freeing up lower cost units. This is known as trickle-down housing. Reaganomics was created to dupe people into believing that making very wealthy people even more wealthy will then “trickle-down” and everyone will prosper. Look how that turned out! Applying the same principles to our low-income housing crisis is an exercise in futility, plain and simple. Displacement due to gentrification is prevalent in our neighborhoods and is exacerbated by the city’s status quo trickle-down housing policies.
I am calling for the city to create and/or purchase 100,000 city owned units over 10 years for those with incomes 80% of the federal poverty line.
Create city owned public housing by purchasing distressed residential properties and other real estate opportunities. Rents for such housing not to exceed 30% of household income. Now is the time to change direction by diverting city funds/revenue towards the goal of providing public housing for those who need it. To facilitate this in part, I propose an ordinance where the city will have the first right of refusal, at fair market value, on any RSO residential properties on the real estate market. In this way, and over time, we can protect RSO units from Ellis Act evictions and help stabilize the low-income housing market. We will also need to set up an office with the Housing + Community Investment Department to oversee/manage city owned housing.
We need to preserve our existing low-income housing through aggressive and strict Transit Orientated Communities (TOCs) and Density Bonus enforcement. There is currently little to no inspection and enforcement so this is why I will put a motion forward to earmark city funds to expand these capabilities and thereby ensure low-income units created are actually going to low-income folks.
The One For One Plan: Building Equity Through Housing ~ A mix of one low-income to one luxury/market rate unit is key to keeping up with current housing demands. This mix makes sure families making $25k per year can afford the housing they need. Current policy allows developers to build larger buildings, but does not meet this needed mix. Once in office I will put together a team to analyze how we can meet this goal. We must demand more from our TOC and density bonuses systems as they have clearly not produced the amount of low-income housing we need.
End off menu giveaways to developers in CD13. By law, whether it be state or municipal, developers are allowed to build projects “by right,” meaning the law gives them the right to construct projects under the guidelines of those laws, and in general we refer to these as being on menu, which do not need the approval of LA City Council. However, when a developer wishes to build outside of what is allowed by those laws, we call it off menu, which need the approval of City Council. When this is the case, there is an opportunity to negotiate with the developer. They need something from us, we should get concessions from them, but for far too long developers have gotten approvals with weak concessions. This will end on my watch. I will fight tooth and nail especially when negotiating for low-income housing units.
Create a new city office within the Housing + Community Investment Department for consolidating all levels of government funding and incentives for low-income housing as a one-stop-shop for low-income housing developers. This is aimed to make it as easy as possible for these developers to utilize these resources.
Incentivize a network of Community Land Trusts and tenant owned cooperatives so we can put the power over our housing needs into the hands of tenants.
Aggressively push for a Vacancy Tax high enough to be cost prohibitive for speculative developers and owners to leave units empty, with the revenues raised being earmarked for public housing. Currently, there are an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 vacant luxury/market rate units in the City of LA.
I am a firm believer in the ability of Tenant Coops and Community Land Trusts to assist in creating low-income housing and I will use my office to promote their creation and seek ways the city can financially support them.
First and foremost, we have to face the fact that, for the most part, having no place to live is directly linked to the low-income housing crisis and until there are enough permanent low-income housing units for everyone who needs one, people will have no choice but to camp on the street. Where else are they supposed to go? This is the reality in which we live brought about by decades of short sighted planning and land use policies, and an overall disregard for those who are unhoused. Projects like
tiny home shed villages have been expensive (~$54,000 per unit) with too few available. The A Bridge Home program, which I sit on the advisory council for the one at Lafayette Park, are very expensive with too few beds to even start to make a dent. Temporary/bridge housing is not how we actually solve the homelessness crisis. Real permanent housing is, even if the city has to go into the landlord business.
If we had an earthquake and all of a sudden there were 60,000 people in the city who lost their homes, there would be a FAMA type response to this tragedy whereby spaces would be commandeered to be used as emergency spaces for those effected to go.
So, in 2018 I proposed the Be Of Hope Intentional Encampment (BOHIE pronounced “bowie”) program. This program would identify city owned properties suitable for people to pitch a tent, and would include basic services such as fresh water, restrooms, access to WiFi, meals, etc. You can find out more about my BOHIE program here.
The one thing the Echo Park Lake campers showed us is if given a stable location to live, they can organize into a sustainable community. Was it perfect? Not from what I heard, but are we really going to let the perfect get in the way of the good?
While the majority of unhoused folks do not suffer from mental health and/or substance abuse issues, there are some that do. Close to 5 decades ago funding was cut to mental health facilities and a war on drugs was commenced. Both of these are a moral failing of our country, our state, and our local municipalities that has resulted in those needing treatment to go without. This is why I am proposing the creation of a municipal full size in-patient/out-patient mental health and substance abuse facility. We can not longer rely on the county and state to administer help to these folks. It is time for us to take matters into out own hands.
Sweeps: While I do recognize the need to keep our city streets clean, and my office will endeavor to do so, the draconian methods currently being used to disrupt houseless people to achieve this goal can not be allowed to continue, at least not in CD13, and not while they have no place to go. Short of full implementation of the BOHIE program, my office will work with LASAN to find creative ways to clean our streets with as little disruption to the campers as possible. Special care will be given to making sure their important papers, medicines, and other necessities are not whisked away. Complaints from the unhoused and advocates will be taken seriously and acted upon. I want clean streets as much as the next person but until we have a place for the unhoused to go, compassion with be the watchword.
Bottom line: my office will be the office of kindness and compassion, where people are treated with dignity, and where every effort will be made to take advantage of bold creative solutions instead of the failed status quo.
Planning, Land Use & Zoning
One of the most important responsibilities of City Hall is Planning, Land Use & Zoning (PLU&Z). PLU&Z decisions have an impact on every citizen in the city. The issues involved can get complicated and technical in nature to be sure. I have the architectural background with four years of experience as the Chair of my NC’s Planning & Land Use Committee to make sense of it all.
Unfortunately I was not on the city council when they passed the Housing Element to the General Plan. This element contains most of the failed status quo policies that created this whole mess in the first place. But what I can do once in office is to make the arguments for amendments to it.
Currently, the city is in the process of updating our 35 Community Plans. These plans are visionary documents informing changes in our zoning codes that dictate what we can build and where. What I have seen so for in my reading of the Community Plans adopted so far is again the same old failed trickle down developer policies. Disturbingly, I am seeing the LA Planning Department start to use those adopted plans as templates for the remaining plans. It is imperative these plans protect existing neighborhoods from gentrification and that any zoning changes are equitably applied, which is not happening.
As your council member, my urban planning team will pay particular attention to community plans affecting CD13, provide community awareness and input opportunities, and they will actively work with the Planning Department to steer these plans in directions that support our neighborhoods, not destroy them. Additionally, any updates to Community Plans need to identify potential sites for Permanent Public Housing.
I am firmly opposed to any laws being proposed in the CA State legislature that would remove our local control over PLU&Z. SB 827 & 50 (Weiner) would have mandated a one-size-fits-all trickle down housing model. I also opposed SB 9 & 10, watered down versions of SB50, which were recently signed into law by the governor. We know what is best for our communities here in LA, not Sacramento politicians being paid off by the developer class and the landlord lobbyists.
Green New Deal
Climate change is real and the effects are already being felt here in LA. While some of the proposals and initiatives coming from city hall have us pointed in the right direction, I believe we must continue to push beyond those, particularly when it comes to how new buildings are constructed.
The number one thing we must do is preserve and maintain our urban tree canopy. Our urban forest is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure we have for reducing the heat island effect & cleaning our air, and it is being decimated at an alarming rate. They are the lungs of our city. For a healthy city, we need at least a 40% canopy coverage. A few years ago we had a dismal coverage of 26% but today? We have a distressing 19% coverage. Our urban forrest needs to be protected, cultivated, and expanded well beyond what is currently being proposed by City Hall.
With the help of environmental organizations and the city’s Urban Forestry Division, I will implement a Citizens Tree Watch Program for the 13th District to track/report illegal removals and I will push to dramatically increase the fees for those removals, and advocate for non-removal alternatives.
Create a CD13 Urban Forest Street Team to survey all of the streets in CD13 looking for places trees can be planted, and to work with the City’s Urban Forestry Division and residents to put trees in those places. In my first term, I will be looking to plant 2,000+ trees per year within the district. I will use council office discretionary funds to purchase a used water truck and staff it to make sure trees are being properly watered.
I will oppose any street repair project within the district where mitigation methods can be employed other than removing trees.
I will put forward motions looking to:
- ~ Provide additional funding for the Urban Forest Division for adequate staffing and for the purchase, planting and maintenance of new trees.
- ~ Require a minimum 45-day notice of all tree removals to give time for Neighborhood Councils and others to file appeals.
- ~ Expand the list of protected trees to include those native trees that are more drought resistant than others and that provide larger areas of shade.
- ~ Greatly increase penalties for illegal removals to make such activities cost prohibitive.
I will push to change zoning and building codes to require external greenery be incorporated into the designs of new construction. This is a must if we are going to see our city robustly sequester carbon from our air.
I support electricity generation for our city to be 100% fossil fuel free by 2030.
I will push to change building codes to require low amperage and low voltage electrical systems in all new & rehabbed homes and commercial spaces. I will push for city programs to incentivize owners of existing structures to upgrade to the same standards.
My office will identify potential locations for the creation of tree/vegetation rich parks within CD13 and identify funding sources to create them.
Install solar panels above city owned parking lots and on municipal building rooftops. The electricity generated can either be used for the associated municipal building(s) or can be sold to the grid.
Replace all city owned vehicles with electric vehicles by 2035.
Increase EV charging stations throughout the district.
High Ethical Standards
The worst kept secret in LA City politics is the historical graft and corruption especially around Planning and Land Use. Three indictments with one conviction of city council members so far, as well as other city officials including at LADWP, is, to me, an indication that we are probably looking at is only the tip of the iceberg.
In office, I will craft meaningful campaign finance reform legislation to remove all financial influences by lobbyists, developers, and other corporate interests. I will also put a motion forward for campaigns to be funded with public funds with each candidate receiving equal amounts of money.
I will also push to end the conflict of interest of Ethics Commissioners being Mayoral appointments by making them elected positions through a charter amendment as this is essentially the fox guarding the hen house. I will also push to increase the commission’s budget to sufficiently fund it so they have the resources they need to investigate and make referrals to law enforcement and prosecutory agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. By making their office autonomous with an oversight committee consisting of representatives from Neighborhood Councils, we can give teeth to this much needed commission.
Public Bank LA
I have been working as a team member on the Public Bank LA Organizing Team for going on a year now and I have to say the benefits of having our own municipal public bank fills me with so much promise and hope.
Private wall street banks have fed off of our tax dollars for far too long giving us very little in return. Community banks are too small to handle the size of our city’s funds but there is an alternative to the use of Wall Street banks.
A LA Public Bank can provide safety of our funds and enlarge our asset base by investing in our communities and small businesses through loans and other banking vehicles. This bank would be headed by a Board of Governors consisting of LA City residents and appointees with full public transparency. It would not be answerable to city hall politicians. It would serve the needs of Angelenos, not Wall Street.
Too many times viable community programs and small business ideas fall by the wayside because traditional banking institutions are either unwilling or unable to provide the capital needed. A public bank would be able to supply the capital needed.
Right now, city funds under management by Wall Street are invested in the fossil fuel industry and other environmentally questionable investments, the city of LA has paid billions in fees to wall street banks over the years. . This would end once a Public Bank is up and running.
Check out this resource booklet to learn about what a municipal public bank could mean to you and your family.
I would like to start by recognizing that the practice of institutional policing in the U.S. has its roots in racism. The slave patrols in the south beginning in the early 1700s were used to capture runaway slaves and to terrorize them as a means to prevent slave uprisings. Today, our police have been used to infringe on the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, and have done so in very violent ways. The protests during the summer of 2020 and those following the eviction of campers at Echo Park Lake show us this is still the case.
I do not believe we should abolish the police but I do believe we need to limit their roles in our society. I believe a slimmer police department is needed to investigate and apprehend the worst offenders: murders; rapists; child molesters; active shooters; fraudsters and thieves; vandals; and the like.
I believe we ask too much from our officers. They should not have to deal with calls regarding mental health, homelessness, policing subways for fare violations, pedestrian infractions, etc. There are many circumstances where an armed police presence is not needed. The LA Fire Department is a perfect example of how 911 calls can be handled by people without guns.
I support the motion passed by City Council (CF #20-0769) for an Unarmed Crisis Response pilot program modeled on the 30-year CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon, as well as other municipalities who have similar programs. As a council member, and based on a positive result of the program (and I have no reason to doubt this will be the outcome), I will push to expedite a full scale roll out of the program. Additionally, my office will conduct a forensic audit of the LAPD budget with a focus on removing all funding not essential to a more streamlined department.
Time and again the LA Police Commission refuses to listen to the voice of the people. While not necessarily a silver bullet, I have advocated for making the Police Commission elected positions. At least in this way we can hold commissioners responsible through recall or electing new people. I realize this will take a charter amendment and I will push for such once in office. I could not find any examples of elected police boards in the U.S. So we would be on the forefront of this like many other issues.
A three strike rule for officers found in violation of use of force. Just like felons have a three strikes and your out rule, we should have the same for police officers.
Misconduct Review Panel with NC members, and although such a review panel would be advisory only, their open deliberations would allow for a publicly transparent process. Officers with multiple infractions should not be allowed to remain on the force.
In office, my staff and I will look for ways the city can help to end qualified immunity so victims of officer misconduct can have their day in court so officers can potentially be held accountable.
A community is made safer when its citizens have what they need to prosper. That includes a stable place to live, enough to eat, sufficient leisure time, stable income, and clean livable outdoor spaces. We must prioritize investments in our neighborhoods over funding a civilian military-style police force. By creating Unarmed Crisis Response Teams, I believe that we can reduce the amount of funding needed to respond to these calls thereby freeing up funds from the LAPD budget.
In general, I will push to allocate funding from LAPD budget for robust community services such as workforce training and education, youth empowerment programs, mental health and substance abuse facilities, community leadership advancement opportunities, and more.
~ Expand the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development program (GRYD)
~ Expand the number of parks and recreation centers
~ Create an Urban Agricultural Center in CD13 and work with neighborhoods to create community gardens
~ Increase the amount of after school programs
~ Concerted effort to engage youth and adults alike in utilizing our libraries and promote a love of reading; work with community partners to install 100 Little Free Libraries per year within the district
~ Create a commission on Livable Wage and Universal Basic Income (UBI) to advise the Mayor and City Council on the effectiveness of minimum wage adjustments tied to inflation, and after reviewing the findings from the current UBI pilot program, which I am confident will be favorable, I will push to have the program expanded to the entire city as quickly as possible.
~ Implementation of my proposals above with regard to creating and maintaining low-income public housing
By my count there appears to only be 5 LAUSD Guidance and Tutoring Programs within CD13. My office will work with LAUSD and other organizations to bring in additional opportunity for the tutoring of kids.
Community Gardens & Commercial Urban Agriculture
Our staff will identify a suitable location and start-up funds for the creation of a Community Agricultural Center within CD13 as a pilot project for possible upscaling throughout the city. This Center is imagined to be self-sustaining after initial investment by producing organic food products for wholesale and retail sales thus creating green new jobs, and to include agricultural learning programs for youth and adults.
Our office will proactively engage with constituents in identifying potential locations for community gardens within CD13, enlist community members as caretakers, and secure funding for land and/or materials as required.
No to 3,000 new cops.
No to expanded federal police presence.
No to increased law enforcement surveillance.
No to an excuse to criminalize the unhoused.
No to gentrification & displacement this will cause.
No to disrupting our city for a 2-week event no one asked for.
If you look at the results from previous Olympics, cities who hosted the Olympics were left worse off afterwards than if they had not done it at all.
Having the Olympics here in 2028 is nothing more than Mayor Garcetti’s vanity. There was no Ballot Measure. There was no community input I am aware of to ask if we even wanted this.
My office will fight tooth and nail to stop what I see as one of the most destructive things to hit our city in decades (other than C19).
Protect LA River Communities
The proposed LA River Master Plan is a roadmap for developer takeover of the 1-mile wide strip of land on either side of the river that provides views of the river and/or access to new river recreation spaces being proposed. My top priority along the river is to ensure current residents are not displaced through gentrification from their communities thereby allowing them to take advantage of these new spaces.
My office will raise river community awareness as to the toxic substances in the water and the soil at parcels being converted to parks and open spaces. My office will monitor this closely and issue bulletins when the public’s safety is at risk. I will seek to hold accountable any Federal, State or City Agency that puts the health and safety of residents at risk. All new recreational spaces must be safe for our families to use.
Are the solutions I have mapped out here the only ones? No. But as I see it after being in the meeting rooms where the issues we face are discussed and debated, I believe with every fiber of my being these are some of the solutions That can get us to where I think most of us want to be.
As I receive new data and new ideas, I will have no problem revising my approaches. With that being said, the one thing I will not compromise on are my values, and I will have no problem being very vocal when I see other council members going in directions that perpetuate the status quo and keeping us from instituting the bold solutions we need.
The Status Quo Has Got To Go!
Paid for by Rachael Rose Luckey For LA City Council 2022 (ID# 1436223).
130 N. Westmoreland Ave. #204, Los angeles, CA 90004
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