G.H. Palmer Associates, an L.A.-based real estate developer, will erect a sky bridge between two of its downtown residential properties in an effort to keep the area’s homeless people from interacting with the building’s more affluent residents, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The City Council voted unanimously, 11-0, to approve the proposal on Friday. Palmer will put the bridge between two new residential properties, called Da Vinci, on either side of Temple Street.
The developers’ initial proposal was turned down last month by the Central Area Planning Commission. But Geoffrey H. Palmer had an ally in City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents downtown L.A.; reportedly, Huizar pleaded the developers’ case in a City Council meeting on Friday.
“This is simply a connection from one residential area to another,” Huizar told the Times, contending the issue has nothing to do with the area’s homeless.
G.H. Palmer Associates’ official request document, meanwhile, doesn’t try to hide the developers’ motivation:
“The best form of self-defense is not being placed in a situation where you have to defend yourself.”
The issue is a contentious one in downtown L.A., where gentrification has attracted more affluent people to the area while the epidemic of homelessness still blankets the surrounding streets.
Hal Bastian, executive vice president of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, applauded Palmer’s bridge proposal, saying the building’s residents would be shielded from homeless living underneath the 110 freeway, which sits directly adjacent to the buildings.
“There’s 20 people now encamped underneath that freeway,” Bastian told the Times. “G.H. Palmer is the only developer with the guts to go in and make this investment with these conditions. This bridge is essential while the area is going through its transition.”
For his part, area homeless man George LaTorre does not see what all the fuss is about:
“It’s peaceful here on Temple Street,” LaTorre told the Times. “The people here do not want trouble. They don’t look for trouble.”
“It’s not like homeless people need additional vilification or stereotyping as being criminals,” UCLA Law School professor Gary Blasi said in the report. “And it’s actually the reverse; homeless people are much more likely to be the victims instead of perpetrators of crimes.”
Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters