And developers very, very much want to provide that housing. In Paramount City, in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, the Icon Company wants to renovate the site of a long-closed Montgomery Ward store and resurrect it with a $150-million mixed development that includes more than 600 apartments along with shops and restaurants.
This is infill development, eliminating actual blight (a commercial building that has been abandoned for decades), bringing more housing to a heavily Latino community with a median household income of around $46,000. This is the kind of development everybody should support. It's even next to a planned mass transit rail line extension.
But the Icon Company had to fight several local labor union groups who challenged the development and claimed that the project would have result in increased emissions and would negatively affect the air quality in the neighborhood.
What on earth does the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and the local chapter of the Laborers Union of North America have to do with evaluating the air quality of construction projects? The lawsuit from Icon argues that the union isn't really terribly concerned about traffic density. It's all about the money. Icon is accusing the two unions involved of violating federal racketeering and antitrust laws. Icon claims that the union's environmental challenge is happening because the developers declined to sign an agreement to use only union labor.