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NIMBYs Punt Controversial Ballot Measure To March, Sensing November Defeat

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The Coalition to Preserve L.A., an anti-development group sponsoring the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, is now shooting to place the NII on the March 2017 city election ballot instead of the upcoming November general ballot, according to the L.A. Times. The move leaves critics wondering if the Coalition's choice to move the voting date was spurred by worries the controversial initiative wouldn't pass in a high-turnout general election.

Along with the date change, the NII has been updated. According to Better Institutions, the initiative has now been slimmed down, and stripped of its highly restrictive language that made the initiative originally so controversial.

These are the folks responsible for all of those "Stop Manhattanwood" billboards you've seen popping up around the city. If approved, the highly controversial Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII) would impose a two-year moratorium on most new commercial and residential development in Los Angeles city. During the two-year planning ban, Los Angeles City would be required to extensively renovate the city's antiquated zoning code, much of which remains unchanged from the early 1940s when it was originally written.

The choice to move the NII to the March 2017 ballot can be viewed, more or less, as an obviously political decision. Worried their initiative wouldn't be passed in the high-turnout environment of a Presidential election this November, the Coalition to Preserve L.A. thinks they'll have a better chance if they hold off for the significantly lower-turnout municipal election.

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Just 8.6 percent(!) of eligible voters voted in the March 2015 city elections. Translating that value into actual numbers, we can extrapolate that only about 150,000 of the city's most diligent voters (of a registered total of 1.8 million) showed up to polls on that particular Election Day.

Of course, the NII is just one of many ballot initiatives floating around L.A.'s political ecosystem. It's accompanied by a proposal from Metro to bump up sales-tax in order to fund dozens of transit projects across the county, as well as another initiative from the Build Better L.A. coalition hoping to push new development into a more economically egalitarian direction.

As Jill Stewart, the Coalition to Preserve L.A.'s spokesperson, said to the L.A. Times, "Our initiative is way too important to be buried at the tail end of this November's ballot."

Proponents of the measure argue the NII is absolutely necessary to keep Los Angeles a "livable" city. Their case follows that as the city becomes denser through large residential developments, traffic and strain on water and power infrastructure gets worse.

Opponents, ranging from the mayor to neighborhood groups, see the initiative as misguided, pointing out that a moratorium on development does nothing but worsen L.A.'s housing crisis, and that the city itself is already hard-at-work reworking the city's zoning code through re:code LA.

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