L.A. Controller Proposes Creating Nonprofit to Oversee City’s Vast Real Estate Portfolio

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a new report proposing the creation of a nonprofit organization — the Los Angeles Municipal Development Corporation (LAMDC) — to oversee L.A.’s massive real estate portfolio. 

The City of Los Angeles owns more than 7,500 properties within its limits and thousands more in L.A. County and elsewhere, making it one of the largest municipal real estate managers in the country. But there isn’t a single entity responsible for managing how all City properties are used and determining whether they could better serve L.A. neighborhoods. Under Galperin’s plan, the LAMDC would change that, reshaping the way Los Angeles manages its properties.

“The City of Los Angeles does many things well, but we do not have a central agency with the industry expertise to get the most out of the thousands of properties we own,” said Controller Galperin. “If we are more strategic about our real estate holdings, we will be able to do more for our communities. Creating the Los Angeles Municipal Development Corporation will enable the City to proactively manage our extensive real estate portfolio and ensure that residents get more value out of public properties.”

While many City-owned properties are parks, rec centers, parking lots or administrative buildings, some are vacant or underutilized and could present economic development opportunities. The LAMDC’s mission would be managing L.A.’s portfolio in the interests of Angelenos. It would provide a central starting point for the development or redevelopment of City buildings and land, and help facilitate new projects and housing to revitalize communities, expand business possibilities and more.

Benefits of LAMDC

One of the LAMDC’s key advantages would be pairing private sector real estate experts with City officials to assess the City’s real estate portfolio, identify key properties, and develop project proposals aimed at maximizing the value of municipal properties. In addition to providing professional experience and a broader vision, the LAMDC would buy and sell City land, lead real estate negotiations, and leverage economic development finance incentives and services to promote growth. It would also provide the City with another steady revenue stream to enhance neighborhood services and improve infrastructure.

Other world-class cities have created similar nonprofit organizations to manage their real estate and spur economic success. New York City, Philadelphia and Copenhagen, Denmark, all employ this model and have enjoyed considerable revenue, job growth, and community benefits therefrom. New York City’s Economic Development Corporation recently brought in $536 million from 46 land transactions. 

“As someone who has owned and operated my own business and served the City of Los Angeles for many years, I have long been concerned with inefficiencies in the way public agencies manage and operate various properties across our city,” said Councilmember Greig Smith, chair of the Information, Technology and General Services Committee. “Controller Galperin’s proposal to transfer management responsibilities to a newly formed municipal development corporation is a smart strategy that will benefit our communities while saving money for Los Angeles taxpayers.”

From mapping to management

Galperin’s LAMDC proposal follows his release of Property Panel, an online, interactive tool that maps all 7,500 City-owned properties within City limits, along with more than 6,000 others owned by five other public agencies. Property Panel was the City’s first comprehensive guide to publicly-owned properties and supports the LAMDC’s aim — to think more strategically about the properties Los Angeles owns.

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.