lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court accuses LA city officials of obstructing a 140-unit affordable housing project in the affluent beachside community of Venice. It paints a picture of a series of administrative blocks that began soon after the November 2022 election of a new city councilmember for the area, Traci Park, and City Attorney Hydee Feldstein-Soto.

The lawsuit comes as construction on the Venice Dell supportive housing apartment building has yet to move forward. The long-planned building intended to allay homelessness in Venice was given the green-light by the LA City Council in 2022, but abruptly stalled in 2023.

The plaintiffs contend that the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles City Council, and the city’s housing and transportation departments “engaged in housing discrimination” under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. They argue the city and its agents created obstruction and delays that have led to an “illegal and wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars.” They demand the city stop delaying the project.

“If we let Councilmember Park and the City Attorney Hydee Feldstein-Soto obstruct affordable housing projects from going into wealthier neighborhoods, we are never going to solve the housing crisis.”
– Katie McKeon, one of the attorneys who is with Western Center on Law & Poverty

The lawsuit was filed by LA Forward Institute, a nonprofit that organizes Los Angeles residents to advocate for public progressive policies, and three individuals, including a Venice homeowner and an unhoused resident who lives in an RV in the neighborhood.

“We didn’t want to file this lawsuit,” said David Levitus, executive director of LA Forward Institute. “There hasn’t been a good faith effort by the city. It’s been endless delay and obstruction.”

The group has been involved in helping organize community members to get the city to move forward on the project, which he said was approved twice by city officials.

“We know we need more affordable housing, we have a huge unhoused population, and we want to make sure people get housing,” Levitus said. “It’s not only wrong … We believe it’s illegal. [It’s] fully entitled, the council has approved it twice.”

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