By The Times Editorial Board | LA Times
It’s not easy getting a construction project approved in Los Angeles, but the process of building homeless housing and shelter is an especially harrowing journey through the city bureaucracy, with multiple stops at the City Council, the Department of Water and Power and various other departments. That’s in addition to the time spent courting nervous, if not resistant, residents in the project’s neighborhood. And for permanent housing, there’s the time spent chasing down financing from an assortment of state, city and private lenders. As badly as the city needs housing and shelter for homeless people, the grim reality is that nothing gets built fast in Los Angeles.
Officials recognize the problem and are desperately trying to figure out how to speed things along. City Councilman David Ryu has a dramatic proposal: Declare a local homelessness state of emergency and put some real teeth into the measure, giving the mayor full power to site homeless housing and shelter on city-owned land and to change the land-use rules on any parcel — city-owned or privately held — to allow homeless housing and shelter on it. The mayor would also have the power to set up public restrooms and safe parking lots (for people living in their vehicles) on public property and approve any land-use changes necessary for restrooms or safe parking on private property. The mayor could also suspend any city regulatory provisions that were delaying approval of sites for housing, restrooms or parking.