Crenshaw Mall Health Impact Assessment Letter

The Crenshaw Mall Redevelopment project is the largest proposed development currently being considered by the City of Los Angeles. At 2.06 million square feet of new construction, the impact will be wide spread on the historically Black Crenshaw community, especially since 1.235 million square feet will be dedicated to adding 961 market-rate housing units.

With the City of L.A. report declaring in 2015 that a household must make over $104,360 to afford a new market-rate housing unit (it is certainly higher now) the purchase prices and rents will be unquestionably unaffordable to the surrounding community. Large market-rate projects in low-income and working-class communities put particular financial strain and increase the risk of displacement on surrounding residents.

Crenshaw-Mall-Market-Rate-Housing.jpg

To date there has been no assessment of how many residents are at risk of being placed in further financial strain and/or indirectly displaced (a type of displacement that occurs when residents and businesses are gradually priced out/harassed out of the area and must involuntarily leave) by the proposed development. Nor has a collective assessment been made to identify and quantify the unique challenges and needs of the existing neighborhood residents to determine how the massive project will effect them.

A health impact assessment would help answer these questions by bringing together local stakeholders to work in collaboration with policy and data experts:

Every day, policy makers in many sectors have opportunities to make choices that—if they took health into account—could help stem the growth of pressing health problems like obesity, injury, asthma and diabetes that have such a huge impact on our nation’s health care costs and on people’s quality of life.

Health impact assessment (HIA) is a fast-growing field that helps policy makers take advantage of these opportunities by bringing together scientific data, health expertise and public input to identify the potential—and often overlooked—health effects of proposed new laws, regulations, projects and programs. It offers practical recommendations for ways to minimize risks and capitalize on opportunities to improve health. HIA gives federal, tribal, state and local legislators, public agencies and other decision makers the information they need to advance smarter policies today to help build safe, thriving communities tomorrow.

It is recognized as a great policy tool by several government agencies including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explanation.

Below is Human Impact Partners, which facilitated the health impact assessment on the proposed The Reef development in Historic South Central, which determined that the mega-project with 1,440 market-rate units would cause a moderate to high risk of financial strain or displacement on 43,756 residents within 2 miles of the project. 

On a 17 May 2017, a huge coalition of 79 community groups, community leaders, along with allies in housing justice/displacement defense sent a letter to the Mayor, Council President, Council Member and City Planning Commission requesting that they hold on any decisions on the project until the community can come together to do a health impact assessment. (The number has since grown from 79). The letter is below.

Hon. Eric Garcetti
City of Los Angeles Mayor

Hon. Herb Wesson, Jr.
Los Angeles City Council President

Hon. Marqueece Harris Dawson
Los Angeles City Councilmember

Los Angeles City Planning Commission
Board Members

Dear Mayor Garcetti, Council President Wesson, Councilmember Harris-Dawson & City Planning Commissioners:

Placed at the historic intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards, the Crenshaw Mall stands at the foot of Leimert Park - Southern California’s center of Black arts, culture, commerce and political power. Mall owners have received millions in taxpayer subsidies, including, but not limited to, City resources for mall renovations and business attraction, and the construction of a Metro station on the publicly funded Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail line. In the future, according to the Draft Environmental Impact Report of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Master Plan, the current mall owners are proposing one of the largest developments in a predominantly Black community in America: 2.06 million square feet of new development, including 1.235 million square feet dedicated to 961 market-rate housing units on the existing site.[1]

Unfortunately, Los Angeles is home to the nation’s worst housing affordability crisis, which is fueling America’s worst homelessness crisis. This is acutely felt in the Crenshaw community and within the regional Black community. In fact, Blacks make up 47% of the city’s homelessness population, despite amounting to only 9% of the overall city population.

The overwhelming majority of residents within a two-mile radius of the Crenshaw Mall live in homes that make less than the City of Los Angeles’ median household income of $50,205 per year.[2] [3] Median household incomes are lowest in the dense apartment neighborhoods that are directly adjacent to the mall (parts of Baldwin Village and Leimert Park are as low as $17,729 and $16,413 respectively). And in parts of communities proximate to the mall, Jefferson Park and Park Mesa Heights, median household incomes are as low as $25,478 and $18,424 respectively. In every community surrounding the mall, Blacks are at the lowest income level. In sum, not only can Crenshaw community residents in general (and Black Crenshaw community residents specifically) not afford new market-rate housing,[4] but they are at-risk of being displaced from the majority Black Crenshaw community if their current housing costs increase.

Despite these facts, to date there has been no assessment of how many residents are at risk of being placed in further financial strain and/or indirectly displaced (a type of displacement that occurs when residents and businesses are gradually priced out of the area and must involuntarily leave) from the proposed Crenshaw mall redevelopment. Accordingly, no mitigations have been proposed or discussed to protect the cultural integrity of the historic Black communities that surround the mall.

Therefore, we request that the City of Los Angeles, City Planning Commission, City Council, Mayor and any other City Departments delay any decisions or approvals on the proposed Crenshaw Mall redevelopment plan until a full health impact assessment is conducted in coordination with the community to assess the health and equity impacts of the project on the communities surrounding the Crenshaw Mall and region.

You may contact Damien Goodmon for follow-up on this matter at: dg@crenshawsubway.org.

Respectfully,

Damien Goodmon
Founder & Executive Director
Crenshaw Subway Coalition

Robert Farrell
Councilmember (Ret.)
Los Angeles City Council District 8

Bishop Aaron Martin
Chair
Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighborhood Development Council

Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives

African American Cultural Center (US)

Akili
Board Member
Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment-Los Angeles (ACCE-LA)

Dr. Alpha Omega Curry, Ph.D
Board Member
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice

Professor Amen Rahh
Professor Emeritus
Africana Studies Department, Cal State University-Long Beach

Andrea Canty
Past President
Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council (NANDC)

Bahni Turpin
Founder & Board Member
SoLA Food Co-Op

Ben Caldwell
KAOS Network

Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance (BCCLA)

Carolyn Fowler
California Senior Leaders Alliance

Rev. C. Eziokwu Washington
WE CAN Foundation/Congress of Racial Equality

Chancela Al-Mansour
Executive Director
Housing Rights Center

Clarissa Woo Hermosillo
Economic Justice Project Director
ACLU of Southern California

Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)

Clinton Simmons, P.E.
Board Member
West Adams Neighborhood Council

Coalition of 100 Black Women – Los Angeles

Community Coalition

Community Development Technologies (CD Tech)

Connye Thomas
President
Tenth District Women’s Steering Committee

Cynthia Davis, MPH
Board Chair
AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Damon Nagami
Senior Attorney
National Resources Defense Council

Danielle Lafayette
Past Chair
Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council

Dr. David Horne, Ph.D
Professor & Former Chair
Pan-African Studies Department, Cal State University-Northridge

Earl Ofari Hutchinson
President
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable

Elena I. Popp, esq.
Founder & Executive Director
Eviction Defense Network

Bishop Emery Lindsay
Pastor
Christ Temple Church-Los Angeles

Erin Aubry Kaplan
Award-Winning Author & Columnist

Fix the City

Forescee Hogan-Rowles
CEO
RISE Financial Pathways*

General Jeff
Chair
LA County Health Agency Integration Advisory Board Subcommittee on Homelessness

Dr. Helena Johnson, Ed.D
Co-Convener
National Council of Negro Women – Southern California Area

Jackie Ryan
Owner
Zambezi’s Bazaar (Leimert Park)

James Marshall
Founder & Curator
Museum of Slavery to Emancipation, Research and Community Outreach

Janette Robinson-Flint
Executive Director
Black Women for Wellness

Jacquelynn Hawthorne
Regional Vice Chair, Region 4
Los Angeles Democratic Party*

Professor Jody Armour
Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law
USC School of Law

Rev. Kelvin Sauls
Senior Pastor
Holman United Methodist Church

Rev. K. W. Tulloss
Pastor
The Historical Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church

Labor/Community Strategy Center

Larry Aubry
Black Leader & Columnist
LA Sentinel Newspaper

LA VOICE

Rev. Dr. Lewis E. Logan, II
Co-Founder & Senior Pastor
Ruach Christian Community Fellowship

Linda Ricks
Interim President
Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment (HOPE)

Lonella Enix
Past President
South LA Alliance of Neighborhood Councils

Loretta Jones
Founder & CEO
Healthy African American Families II

Lori McCoy-Shuler
Parish Pastoral Council President
Holy Name of Jesus Church

Los Angeles Black Worker Center

Los Angeles Center for Community Law & Action

Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN)

Los Angeles Tenants Union

Luis Cabrales
Executive Director
Inquilinos Unidos

Mark-Anthony Johnson
Director of Health & Wellness
Dignity & Power Now

Dr. Melina Abdullah, Ph.D
Professor & Chair, Pan African Studies
Cal State University-Los Angeles

Dr. Michael Batie, Ph.D
President
Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers

Michael Guynn
Planning & Land Use Committee Chair
Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council

National Action Network-Los Angeles

Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County

Opal Young
President
Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Homeowners Coalition

Park Mesa Heights Community Council

People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)

Rae Jones
Executive Director
Great Beginnings for Black Babies

Regina Freer
Former Commissioner
Los Angeles City Planning Commission 

Ron Gochez
Unión del Barrio-Los Angeles

Ron Hasson
Southwest Region Area Director
NAACP-California

Dr. Shirley Better, Ph.D
President
Association of Black Social Workers of Greater Los Angeles

Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Southern California 

Steve Bagby, Sr.
President
Dorsey H.S. Alumni Association

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE)

Tammy Williams
Founder & Director
View Park Arts & Cultural Foundation

Tony Wafford
Executive Director
I Choose Life Health & Wellness

Tori Bailey, MHA
Board Member
United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council

Union de Vecinos

United Neighbors for Los Angeles

Rev. William D. Smart, Jr.
Pastor
Christ Liberation Ministries

Woodrow Curry, III
Lead Organizer
Uplift Inglewood

Youth Justice Coalition

* = Information purposes only

[1] City of Los Angeles Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Master Plan Project Jan 2016 Pg. I-1: “The Proposed Project would add a total of approximately 2.06 million square feet of development to the Project Site, which would consist of approximately 820,000 square feet of commercial development and 961 residential units (totaling approximately 1.235 million residential square feet).”

[2] US Census. American Fact Finder

[3] http://bit.ly/bhcpincomes

[4] LAHCID 11/17/15 Report to Mayor Eric Garcetti Pg. 3: “At these rental rates, families must earn $81,240 to afford the average rent and $104,360 to afford a newly built apartment.”

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