“All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us!”
Yesterday, LA CAN and Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition partners presented testimony to the City’s Planning Commission outlining our community health concerns regarding the proposed NFL stadium and convention center expansion, as well as our specific recommendations for addressing them. Our Coalition has been engaged in the land use, environmental review, and other public processes for more than a year – but we continue to see the needs of low-income residents in Pico Union, South LA and Downtown ignored in this process.
Our housing recommendations continue to create the most controversy – though the evidence supporting them is quite clear. Planning Commissioner Regina Freer was quite convinced of the potential impacts as she pushed for mitigation on this issue, but AEG and the City continue their unsubstantiated denial of the impacts to population and housing. Some City officials have even changed their position, as the pressure of the billionaires at AEG and the NFL push for fast-tracked approval to meet a timeframe that doesn’t serve the community.
Yesterday, Councilmember Jan Perry was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as stating that, with regards the proposed football stadium, affordable housing is “something that’s not at issue at this point.” However, as recently as July, the councilmember responded to our Coalition’s Health Impact Assessment by telling ABC7 news,
“If we are able to get this project off the ground….we would absolutely want as much housing as possible near and around the area so that people could walk to work, or take a DASH, or ride a bike.”
Since the creation of the Staples Center and LA LIVE, there have been more than 2,100 units of low-income housing negatively impacted in South Park and the Historic Core alone, more than 1,200of those were PERMANENTLY lost due to demolitions and mass, illegal evictions. More than 100 of those low-income units were demolished within the block directly north of LA Live and replaced with parking lots serving the sports and entertainment district. There is no reason to believe this trend will not continue and be exacerbated if the stadium project is built without mitigation measures for housing impacts.
Community health concerns go beyond housing so, among many recommendations, we urged the City to:
- Create a community plan and partnership to ensure the expanded open/green spaces will serve existing communities – not just event-goers.
- Ensure additional public safety costs are covered by the Developer, and not the City, as is the case with the proposed City of Industry stadium.
- Create firm commitments around transit use and improvements, and ensure both stadium-goers and low-income transit riders benefit from the improvements.
- Ensure mitigation measures to protect against reproductive health impacts from decreased air quality.
- Create a housing trust fund for the preservation and development of extremely low-income housing in the surrounding neighborhoods, as a means of meeting the housing needs of the mostly low-income workers who will be employed at the site and preventing the indirect displacement caused by the project.
Whether AEG or the City Council wants to admit it now or not, we know that unless there are significant measures put in place to protect housing, ensure green space accessibility, ensure expanded transit use and improvements for both visitors and local low-income residents, mitigate air quality impacts, and address public safety costs and impacts in the surrounding communities, this project will create drastic, long-term and negative health impacts in the surrounding communities of Downtown, South LA and Pico Union.
Before the City Council approves this project, councilmembers simply must do more to protect the health and livelihoods of those who will be dealing with impacts of the stadium for decades to come – instead of solely serving the interests of the developer, AEG.