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Government / Local politics

LA developer backs down on poor door

Good news: “poor doors” might be falling out of fashion.  

Reports of housing blocks that segregate the haves from the have-nots in New York and London have been everywhere this summer. Separate entrances, lobbies and elevators are, according to some developers, necessary to keep affordable renters away from the occupants of luxury apartments, Downton Abbey-style.

But in Los Angeles, the developers of a proposed housing block have just abandoned plans to segregate residents based on rent. The original proposals for the ten-story building, planned by Beverly Blvd. Associates, included a separate entrance for the residents of the block’s 17 affordable units. To add insult to injury, they would also have been banned from the building’s swimming pool – despite the fact their apartments would have looked down on to it.

This didn’t go down well with the local authority, the City of West Hollywood, which criticised the plan as contrary to its “policies of inclusiveness and equal access for all”. (Nowhere is more egalitarian than Hollywood, after all.) The developers suggested providing separate facilities for the affordable apartments, but this was rejected too.

And so, Beverly Blvd. Associates have backed down gracefully: if it goes ahead, the development is to have a single entrance, and pool access for all. Spokesman Brian Lewis told the LA Times:

“The City of West Hollywood previously recommended comparable amenities, which we had agreed to. If the City now feels that shared amenities and access best meet the needs of the residents of the affordable housing units, we are more than willing to accept those conditions of the project.”

Unfortunately for Beverly Blvd. Associates, the plans failed to gain approval at a planning hearing on Thursday due to the development’s size (the council could still approve the plans at a later date). And, at the hearing, Planning Commissioner Heidi Shink took the opportunity to air her own views on poor doors:

“It saddens me… That is not what the city of West Hollywood is about. This is a city of inclusion, not exclusion. … The fact that this has been course corrected is great. It should not have been on the table to begin with.”

Let that be a warning to all future segregators. 
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