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Los Angeles City Council Advances Homeless Housing Project Amid Community Concerns

Hot Button Midvale Project To Go Ahead After City Council Vote

By Dolores Quintana

In a unanimous decision, the Los Angeles City Council has given the green light for the development of a contentious homeless housing initiative in West Los Angeles, situated opposite the now-closed Westside Pavilion.

The council has allocated approximately $4.8 million towards the realization of the Midvale Project. This endeavor entails the transformation of a city-owned parking lot at 2377 Midvale Avenue into a 33-unit interim housing facility specifically designed to cater to the homeless population in the vicinity. Additionally, the council has taken the step to exempt the project from the California Environmental Quality Act, a move aimed at expediting the development process.

The interim housing facility is envisioned to encompass a range of amenities, including three laundry facilities, storage options, a designated pet area, office space for service providers, dining spaces, and secure fencing for enhanced safety. Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky has previously emphasized that the project seeks to address the pressing need for homeless housing in the Fifth Council District by repurposing a city lot that is not used frequently. Her office estimates that approximately 1,300 unhoused individuals reside within the district, and the district lacks the interim beds necessary to house them. 

Nonetheless, local residents have expressed their opposition to the project, citing its proximity to residential areas and homes. Recently, the local Westside Neighborhood Council voted against the project 12 to 2. The organization Stop Midvale Pico and Rancho Park residents have filed three ethics complaints with the City Ethics Department against a member of Yaroslasky’s staff, and LifeArk, Inc., and LA Family Housing and its CEO, Stephany Klasky-Gamer, for “lobbying and bidding violations.”

The group Fix the City has filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles over Mayor Bass’ state of emergency declaration issued under Section 8.33 and the executive powers that it grants to her, as well as alleging that the Midvale Project held secret negotiations and discussions on the project using the emergency declaration’s power. According to a news report from CBS Los Angeles, other local residents stated that other lawsuits will be filed. 

Concerns have also been raised about safety and the potential consequences of losing parking spaces, particularly with regard to nearby businesses. Furthermore, anxieties have arisen over the proximity of two schools and the welfare of children in the area. The two closest schools are the Los Angeles Performing Arts Conservatory, which is 295 feet away but is a post-secondary school for the dramatic arts and cinema, and Overland Elementary School for Advanced Studies, which is .07 miles away on Overland Avenue. 

In response, Yaroslavsky has pledged to secure additional parking solutions for Pico Boulevard businesses before commencing construction. She also committed to collaborating with the Los Angeles Police Department and the service provider to formulate a comprehensive neighborhood security plan.

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