Supervisor Kathryn Barger is expected to introduce a motion at today’s County Board of Supervisors meeting that would result in the identification of commercial real estate property across Los Angeles County that could be repurposed for needed temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness as well as for long term affordable housing.
Barger’s office said in a statement that her motion, coauthored by Chair Hilda L. Solis, aims to serve vulnerable residents while also supporting local businesses through innovative strategies to leverage public-private partnership.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems for our most needy residents, but it has also presented us with creative new opportunities to serve them,” Supervisor Barger said. “One of the greatest challenges to providing shelter and housing for those experiencing homelessness is the time and funding it takes to build. By utilizing existing property, we can meet the urgent housing needs of those on the street quickly and effectively.”
Because of closures to restaurants, gyms, retail stores, and hotels, many companies are considering a future where they can downsize their physical footprints to reduce overhead costs and to offer more flexible work opportunities to their employees. This will in turn have consequences to the commercial real estate sector, Barger’s statement said.
Barger pointed out that commercial real estate not only supports multiple industries, but also makes up a significant component of the local property tax base, which funds general services provided by the county.
A report by UC Berkeley identifies a solution that benefits the sector while uplifting the local community.
“Allowing new homes and mixed-use projects to be built on these sites can serve as a catalyst for new economic growth while at the same time addressing California’s ongoing housing shortage,” the report reads. “This form of redevelopment also advances infill development goals, bringing residents closer to jobs, amenities, and transit, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions from personal automobile use.”
If the motion is approved, the Board of Supervisors will direct the Chief Executive Officer, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Development Authority and the Department of Regional Planning, to assemble a list of underutilized commercial real estate properties suitable for interim and permanent affordable housing strategies and report back in 90 days.