LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to identify and repurpose underutilized commercial property as temporary and permanent affordable housing.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger and the motion’s co-author, Hilda Solis, noted that many commercial spaces have been left vacant as companies transitioned to telework during the pandemic.
“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,” Barger said Monday. “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.”
As businesses look to downsize their physical footprint to reduce overhead and offer more flexible work schedules, commercially zoned land can be converted to mixed use or new housing, Barger said, citing a UC Berkeley report.
“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 in part. “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.”
On a unanimous vote without discussion, the board directed the county’s CEO to work with regional planners and the county’s development authority to assemble a list of underutilized properties in the next 90 days.