San Fernando Valley residents angry over proposed low-income apartments

Residents in the San Fernando Valley are mad after finding out that loopholes in city guidelines for low-income housing may let developers build big apartment buildings next to single-family homes.

At least eight such developments in the San Fernando Valley may go through. In each case, the project proposals went into the pipeline right after Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued Executive Directive 1 — guidelines which allow fast tracking for low-income housing projects — and before she issued an update prohibiting large scale projects on single-family streets.

While the LA City Planning Department said they have notified the developers of these projects that their applications did not qualify for ED1 fast tracking, at least one, Uncommon Developers, said they plan to build a 70-story, 200-unit project on Ethel Street in Sherman Oaks.

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In a statement to FOX 11, Uncommon Developers said that "there is no larger crisis facing the City of Los Angeles than the lack of affordable housing. By moving forward with 200 new privately-funded, 100% affordable housing units, the City Council followed state law and took one important step towards fixing this citywide emergency."

Councilmember Nithya Raman, who represents that area of Sherman Oaks, sent the following statement to FOX 11: 

"I empathize with the frustration of residents. However, as the state’s Housing Enforcement Agency has stated, the developers were following the rules of ED1 as written at the time they applied. We will work with the developers as our office always does to ensure that the project addresses community concerns around traffic, safety, and privacy."

Many residents who live in neighborhoods affected by these proposed projects are angry, especially those who said they had not been notified or even asked for input.

ED1 projects can bypass steps like environmental reviews and public hearings, to speed up the process. Mayor Bass’ office explained that more than 7,000 affordable housing units are in the pipeline to be built because of the directive, saying that many communities are glad to see people off the streets.

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Residents in these areas told FOX 11 that they want affordable housing built, if it fits in their neighborhood plan. 

"I don't think they would allow a seven-story building in front of the mayor's or the councilmember's home," said one resident who said they're considering legal action against the city. 

The eight San Fernando Valley projects include:

  • 501-5511 N. Ethel Ave., Sherman Oaks: 200 units with building height of 80 feet
  • 10898-10900 W. Olinda St., Sun Valley: 78 units with building height of 43 feet
  • 8217 N. Winnetka Ave., Canoga Park: 360 units with building height of 80 feet
  • 19448 W. Saticoy St., Reseda: 114 units with building height of 48 feet
  • 7745 N. Wilbur Ave., Reseda: 190 units with building height of approximately 69 feet
  • 11070 N. Borden Ave., Pacoima: 202 units with building height of 58.5 feet
  • 8550 N. Variel Ave., Canoga Park: 85 units with building height of 39 feet
  • 18430 W. Vanowen St., Reseda: 85 units with building height of 64 feet