image of LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo speaking to group in front of apartment building

Lens on Eminent Domain and Affordable Housing

Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to LAist about a Los Angeles City Council member’s proposal to create more affordable housing  by using eminent domain to take over an apartment building. The council may consider whether to seize a 124-unit affordable housing complex in Chinatown that was built under a covenant that guaranteed affordable housing for 30 years. The covenant, set to expire this year, allowed the owner to then legally raise rents to the market price.  Lens said that using eminent domain could potentially have a “chilling effect” on future affordable housing developments. “The developer entered into a 30-year covenant with the expectation that whomever owned the property at the end of that 30-year period would be free to do whatever made sense to that owner,” he said. “All financial decisions over that 30-year period have been made with that assumption.”


 

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