By Michael Messina
“We want JJJ, not Trump’s L.A.!” came the chant from the more than 75 protestors who gathered in front of developer Geoff Palmer’s luxury Medici apartment complex. The affordable housing rally in downtown L.A. Tuesday highlighted the unaffordability of complexes like Palmer’s, the toll it is taking on residents put out by these exorbitant structures, and the need to vote Yes on Proposition JJJ this November.
“The Medici has been open for awhile. They still have openings – if you can afford it,” said Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Policy Director Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi. “That’s what happens when you price above what people can afford in the city of L.A.”
Palmer is no friend of the affordable housing push. His donations of more than $2 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign clearly reflect his business priorities. Speakers at the Proposition JJJ rally made it clear they were not protesting development in general, but had a beef with costly housing that displaces L.A. residents.
“We’re all here together today to defend our rights,” said Josefina Castillo, an activist for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and a longtime resident of South L.A. “Every year I see new projects, new development here in L.A.; and every year I see working class people being left behind. I’m not against investment in Los Angeles, I’m not against development in Los Angeles, but I am against leaving working people behind.”
Proposition JJJ would force developers who want special zoning changes to build a certain amount of affordable housing as well as use 30 percent local hire on construction.
Calling the measure a joint effort between the affordable housing community, business and labor, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Ron Miller said that JJJ establishes guidelines to prevent developers from “[forgetting] about the affordable housing part.”
“Included in that is labor standards,” Miller said, “so that [the developer] has to use a skilled trained workforce and he has a commitment to local hire from the local community to build his projects.”
“You cannot address housing affordability and not talk about wages,” Kwa Jitahidi added. “If people are not being paid a living wage, they are not going to be able to live in L.A.”
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