Chinatown residents and organizations are fighting irresponsible market rate housing developments in the midst of Los Angeles’ housing crisis. On May 6th, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development filed a lawsuit in LA County Superior Court against the City of Los Angeles for violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Planning and Zoning laws, Subdivision Map Act, City Charter and Los Angeles Municipal Code in regards to the “College Station” development by Atlas Capital from New York.
In March 2019, LA City Council approved Atlas Capital Group’s “College Station” development, which will build 725 units of market rate units with 0% affordable housing in Chinatown. In a neighborhood with a median income under $20,000, where 95% of residents are renters and half of renters pay over 30% of their income for rent in Chinatown, CCED demands that the City of Los Angeles hold developers accountable for the impacts of market rate developments driving up rent across Chinatown and Los Angeles. Atlas Capital must provide affordable housing that is accessible to the extremely low-income community.
Allies from Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) and Asian Pacific American Labor Association reminded press conference attendees of the larger context within which this development is taking place. Taiji Miyagawa from PANA noted that “What is happening in Chinatown is not different than what is occurring in other ethnic enclaves. Today, speculation capital is targeting the culturally-rich neighborhoods that we have built across multiple generations, and many of us have no where else to go!”
This development directly violates LA Municipal Code, which states that development projects seeking special entitlements such as increases in permissible height and residential density such as the College Station Project are required to allocate “no less than 5% of the total units at rents affordable to Extremely Low Income households, and either 11% of the total units at rents affordable to Very Low Income households or 20% of the total units at rents affordable to Lower Income Households.”
Attorney for CCED, Mitchell Tsai states “The City is subverting the intent of the voters who voted for Measure JJJ by improperly exempting Projects such as College Station from the affordability requirements for projects seeking special entitlements passed by voters in 2016.”
We demand truly affordable housing for Chinatown. College Station would be one of the largest mixed use housing developments to be built in Chinatown and cause irreparable displacement and harm by shifting housing and businesses towards wealthier residents, and away from existing vulnerable residents. Such developments escalate the unaffordability and inaccessibility of Los Angeles as a home for the working class to live and thrive.
Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) is a grassroots organization that organizes and advocates with low-income and immigrant residents for tenant rights, quality affordable housing, and socioeconomic equity. There are over 7,500 market rate units proposed for Chinatown. Any market rate housing coming into Chinatown is unacceptable. The Chinatown community vows to fight any new market rate developments brought in without community input or control. Chinatown is not for sale.