City of Los Angeles Ends Illegal Pocket Veto

The City of Los Angeles has finally dispensed with a longstanding illegal policy and practice that gave individual City Councilmembers unbridled power to decide if, whether, and where supportive and affordable housing projects are built in the City. As a consequence, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE Action) is dismissing its lawsuit challenging this illegal pocket veto.

For years, advocates have complained that the City’s use of Letters of Acknowledgement and Support violates fair housing laws and impedes housing projects that our community desperately needs. The use of such local approval requirements are also a nationally recognized impediment to fair housing. But prior to filing our lawsuit, the City ignored all demands to stop its illegal policy and practice.

As a direct result of this litigation, the City has completely and permanently eliminated all such letter requirements. The City’s actions go well beyond the requirements of last year’s state Assembly Bill 829, which prohibits state assistance for housing developments that are subject to such letter requirements. The City has removed the letter requirements from all of its affordable and low income housing loan programs that use state as well as local funding, including the Affordable Housing Managed Pipeline and the Proposition HHH programs. As a result, individual City Councilmembers can no longer utilize a pocket veto to unilaterally block, delay or condition housing projects for any or no reason at all. Nor can they use this practice to insert additional discriminatory barriers to projects, such as requiring the support of neighborhood councils.

We are pleased to have largely achieved the goals of our lawsuit. It’s unfortunate that it took so many years for the City to do the right thing, but we are satisfied that the City has made progress. We will continue to monitor the City’s actions, and take appropriate steps as necessary, to ensure that it does not erect additional arbitrary barriers to affordable and supportive housing.

ACCE Action is represented by PILP, Public Counsel, and Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld LLP.

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