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L.A. Mayor And Entire County Board Of Supervisors Come Out Against Measure S

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With the March 7 ballot nearing for L.A. voters, city officials are announcing their stance on Measure S, also known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (and colloquially dubbed "That Terrible NIMBY Ballot Measure" by some opponents). The measure would put a two-year freeze on most large-scale developments, amid other restrictions.

On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference in Little Tokyo with the campaign opposing the measure. Garcetti said that Measure S, if passed, would handcuff the city's attempts to house the homeless, reports the L.A. Times. The mayor said that the passage of Measure S could minimize the potential benefits stemming from Proposition HHH, a measure geared at generating $1.2 billion to fund permanent housing for the unhoused (HHH was passed by voters back in November). The site of the conference was not arbitrary; Garcetti was standing outside the Casa Heiwa complex. The building, completed in 1996, is a 100-unit, apartment complex geared at low-income families.

The implications of Measure S could be far-reaching, and not in a good way. The city's planning process is out of date, meaning it was not written in anticipation for the dire housing crunch that we're currently mired in. Under the city's current community plans, most developments would need exemptions of some kind. And Measure S, which pretty much bars all development that require exemptions, could push the city far deeper into the housing crisis. At the conference, Garcetti noted that affordable housing developers, hoping to reduce costs, often build on land that is not zoned for housing; approval for this type of plan change would be barred under Measure S.

“Los Angeles is a city that welcomes everyone, and we never want to turn our backs on our residents—but that’s what Measure S would do,” Garcetti said in a release, adding that, “Measure S will raise rents and will stymie our work to house the homeless."

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The release also cited a economics report that said Measure S will cost the city $2 billion per year in lost economic activity, and amount to more than $70 million lost in the city's annual budget.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors echoed those sentiments on Tuesday, when it unanimously agreed through a motion to oppose Measure S. In a statement, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said that Measure S could, "virtually halt the construction of affordable housing, and increase the number of men and women who are homeless."

"The measure could not be more poorly timed," Kuehl added. "The County is less than a full year into implementing its comprehensive initiative to end homelessness, and Measure S would significantly impede our progress."

As noted at the Times, proponents of the Yes on S campaign (which is largely backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, weirdly), claim that campaign donations are influencing officials' decisions to offer rezoning and other exemptions to developers. Garcetti's office notes, however, that Measure S does not explicitly regulate campaign finance. And Councilmember Mike Bonin, touching on the topic of developers and campaign financing, proposed in January a "Clean Money" plan that would allow candidates to cull from public funds to finance their campaigns (and thus take private donations out of the equation).

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L.A Councilmember Jose Huizar and the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (on which Huizar is a chairman), has proposed for the city to review and possibly update its community plan every six years, as noted at Curbed LA. Currently, 29 of 35 community plans are 15 years old or more. As part of its proposal, the committee is also requesting that the city review general plan amendment requests that are "batched by geography," as opposed to viewing them on a property-by-property basis, according to committee documents. This would, at least theoretically, lead to a more cohesive planning process.