When IKAR, a Los Angeles Jewish community, purchased a piece of property four years ago, they began envisioning a synagogue home for themselves. The community, which has been a congregation for about 18 years now, never owned their own building.
As they began planning what their synagogue and community home would be, something else became clear.
“It became really evident to us that one of the very best things we could do as a faith community buying and owning property in Los Angeles was to figure out how to build permanent supportive housing and affordable housing on our site, alongside the home that we’re building for our own community,” IKAR Director of Community Organizing Brooke Wirtschafter told The Center Square.
The community decided to embark on plans to create supportive housing for homeless individuals living in Los Angeles. Their vision is to create a 55-unit permanent supportive housing development that will be built concurrently with the synagogue, with hopes of it being completed by 2025.
But one barrier threatened to throw a wrench in their plans – costly parking requirements set by city zoning laws. The zoning rules meant IKAR built far more parking spaces than they wanted or needed, adding costs of up to $55,000 per parking space, Wirtschafter said.
An existing California law authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, signed in 2020 reduced parking requirements for religious institutions that build affordable housing on their property. This law, however, did not apply in IKAR’s case because the site was new and did not have existing parking.
Wirtschafter said she and other community members knew something had to change. They approached a few lawmakers about clarifying the law to make it possible for religious communities like IKAR to develop affordable housing with their new synagogue while taking advantage of parking requirement exemptions.
Inspired by IKAR’s situation, […]
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