- Reporters Desk
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
On Nov. 18, a consortium of Los Angeles public officials and their team of consultants told an audience of almost 200 community members that redevelopment of Rancho San Pedro is infeasible in the near future. The infeasibility is largely due to scarce public monies. A market environment that will be less than ideal until redevelopment of Port O’Call Village and realignment of Sampson Way, which is at least two years from now is another reason.
The committee consisted of officials from the Los Angeles Housing Authority, City Councilman Joe Buscaino’s District 15 office and the consulting team selected this past spring—Economic & Planning Systems, CSG Advisors and Quatro Design Group. The consulting team actually put the feasibility study together. Bottom line, the committee said, Rancho San Pedro needs more assets to be more attractive to private developers.
Housing Authority community liaison John King applauded Buscaino for prioritizing affordable housing in Watts and San Pedro. King also noted that the process was done under the watchful eye of the Rancho San Pedro’s resident advisory committee.
But King and Buscaino’s economic development advisor, David Robertson, repeatedly noted that even if there were enough public monies to fund Rancho San Pedro, at least two other projects—including Jordan Downs and Rose Hills—are higher priorities
Former Housing Authority board member Dianne Middleton called the meeting a “dog and pony show” designed to placate Rancho residents and affordable housing advocates.
The feasibility study produced four scenarios in which Rancho San Pedro could be redeveloped in the next decade or more.
The scenarios ranged from simply rehabilitating all 479 units to increasing the density of the Rancho San Pedro property by demolishing some units and replacing them with a larger mix of affordable and market rate town houses. One alternative called for demolishing 110 units, rehabilitating 369 units and building 128 affordable townhome units and 44 market rate townhome units on-site. Yet another calls for higher density and the building of off-site affordable housing units at some undetermined location.
Councilman Buscaino restated his desire to improve Rancho San Pedro and that “no one should have to live in World War II housing.” Buscaino and others said that the units should at least have modern appliances.
Both the council office and the Housing Authority officials noted that federal law requires that affordable housing is replaced on a one-to-one basis.
Still, Middleton’s skepticism was common among the meeting’s community attendees. Though King noted that the Housing Authority has adopted right of return rules and other reforms to protect low-income housing tenants, audience members continued to ask for assurances that they would have a right to return in the event of any rehabilitation of Rancho San Pedro.
Neither the council office nor the Housing Authority ever quite explained what they meant by “affordable housing.”