USC’s proposed redevelopment project is on hold for the time being, while the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee works on gathering more information about the proposal and its comparison to other universities.
The university presented the billion-dollar project at the planning committee’s meeting last week. The plan, which would revamp land owned by USC by adding new student housing and retail space, would generate 12,000 jobs in South L.A., according to the project’s website.
The meeting drew both supporters and opponents of the plan. Some community groups voiced concern for the project’s potentially negative impact on low-income residents living in the surrounding neighborhood.
Following lengthy debate, Councilman Ed Reyes, who chairs the committee, requested a report from city departments that provides a deeper analysis of the project. The report will also look at how other major universities have addressed similar community concerns to development projects.
David Galaviz, a USC spokesman, said the university feels it is difficult to make a comparison between USC and other school’s development projects, because all universities are in different situations when undertaking projects.
“It’s hard to compare USC's presence in L.A. to Harvard in Cambridge, for example,” he said.
But he added that the university will continue working with the city, and provide any research it needs for its report.
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, or SAJE, is one of the local groups that's unhappy with USC’s current proposal. At the meeting, the group asked for more clarity from the university about its plan for hiring local workers, as well as larger contributions to low-income housing in the area.
Councilmembers Jan Perry and Bernard Parks echoed that in an email sent on the day of the meeting, asking USC to up its contribution toward development of the surrounding community to $20 million.
SAJE’s political director, David Robinson, said he felt the committee made an appropriate decision to research a number of aspects about the plan and its impact on the community before the project progressed.
“It really does seem to us that Councilman Reyes listened to both USC and the community, and is attempting to move forward in a way that accommodates USC, the community and the city,” Robinson said.
The university will return to the planning committee on September 18 for a “check-in session,” Galaviz said.
Despite the temporary hold, Galaviz said he does not want supporters of the project to get discouraged. The city has a track record for holding more than one hearing to properly analyze large projects, he said.
“We were expecting that the planning committee would put this over,” Galaviz said. “We hoped they wouldn’t, but expected they would.”
In the meantime, he said the university will continue working with supporters and spreading the word about the benefits of the project.