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LA Measure LH
From LAist and KPCC, your local NPR affiliate, what you need to know about Measure LH, which would allow L.A. to build up to 75,000 additional low-income housing units.
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Measure LH asks voters in the city of Los Angeles to approve the development of up to 5,000 additional low-income housing units in each of L.A.’s 15 city council districts.

Official title on the ballot: Authorization for additional low-income housing

You are being asked:

Do you approve a measure authorizing public entities in the City of Los Angeles to develop, construct, or acquire up to 5,000 additional units of low-income rental housing in each Council District, for a total of up to 75,000 additional units of low-income housing within the City, to address homelessness and affordable housing needs, subject to availability of funding and City development requirements?
WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS
  • A "yes" vote means:

      • You want to give L.A. permission to develop an additional 5,000 units of affordable housing in each of the city’s 15 council districts using already existing public funds.
    • A "no" vote means:

      • You do NOT want to give L.A. permission to develop more affordable housing in each city council district through pre-existing public funds.

    More Voter Guides

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    Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

    Understanding The Measure

    A “yes” vote would give L.A. the authority to put preexisting streams of public funding toward the construction or acquisition of up to 75,000 new housing units across the city for struggling low-income renters and people experiencing homelessness. Keep in mind, this measure does not guarantee all of that housing will actually get built. It only asks voters to allow for the potential development of new, publicly financed affordable housing across the city.

    The History Behind It

    To understand why this measure is even on the ballot in the first place, we have to travel back to 1949. Congress had just banned racial segregation in public housing through the Federal Housing Act of 1949. The following year, the city of Eureka, California was planning to use federal funds to build low-income housing. But local residents revolted. They wanted to be able to vote to reject public housing projects in the city, and their organizing efforts ended up enshrining that right in the state’s constitution.

    Eurekans teamed up with a real estate industry group called the California Real Estate Association to advocate for the passage of Article 34, which requires voter approval before local governments anywhere in California can greenlight publicly funded affordable housing projects. It’s the only law of its kind in the nation. It’s still in effect today, and that’s why you’re voting on Measure LH — because L.A. can’t build these units without voters’ permission.

    The campaign to pass Article 34 more than 70 years ago extolled the benefits of giving Californians a say in taxpayer funded projects in their backyards. But it also appealed to racist fears of integrated neighborhoods. The real estate industry cast public housing advocates as “minority pressure groups.” Meanwhile, the same Realtors who supported Article 34 were also trying to preserve neighborhood segregation. As reporter Liam Dillon wrote in his 2019 Los Angeles Times story about Article 34:

    At the time, the Realtors’ Code of Ethics included a provision barring agents from integrating neighborhoods on the basis of “race or nationality” if doing so would be “clearly detrimental to property values.”

    Voters approved Article 34 in 1950, which allowed Los Angeles voters to reject affordable housing developments across the city for many years. Critics hoping to repeal Article 34 have called the state’s constitutional requirement a “racist relic.” In 2024, Californians will have a chance to vote on whether to overturn Article 34.

    Which brings us back to Measure LH today. L.A. voters have approved similar measures in the past. In 2008, voters gave L.A. their blessing to create up to 3,500 units of low-income housing in each council district. While many parts of the city continue to resist new affordable housing projects through zoning restrictions and onerous development requirements, a handful of districts are now approaching that cap. When these areas reach their cap, L.A. has to go back to voters before it can build any more publicly financed low-income housing units in those parts of the city.

    In May 2022 the city’s housing department reported that Councilman Kevin de León’s district, District 14, was just 10 units short of hitting the Article 34 limit. If Measure LH fails, parts of L.A. such as District 14 could soon have to turn down public funding for further affordable housing development. That could seriously impede the city’s progress on meeting a state-mandated goal of approving 185,000 new units of housing affordable to low- and very low-income households by 2029.

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    Arguments For  

    In their statement in favor of Measure LH, Los Feliz Neighborhood Council president Jon Deutsch and Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing executive director Alan Greenlee write:

    “Los Angeles’ housing crisis grows worse every day, with more and more Angelenos facing housing insecurity and homelessness. The City of Los Angeles has not authorized additional affordable housing since 2008. We need to get serious about tackling the crisis of our time.”

    Arguments Against

    Given the racist and exclusionary history of Article 34, it’s not exactly surprising that no one stepped up to file a formal opposition statement in the City Clerk’s voter information pamphlet.

    Potential Financial Impact

    The city administrative officer concluded that there would be no financial impact for the city if Measure LH is approved by voters.

    This measure does not require the City to develop, construct, or acquire the increased number of units, nor does it authorize a new funding source for low-income rental housing. Furthermore, this measure does not impact funding availability for low-income rental housing, the largest sources being federal funding and voter-approved bond financing. Therefore, there is no financial impact resulting from the adoption of this measure.

    In addition, if approved, Measure LH would use preexisting public funds to develop, build, or acquire additional housing units.

    Further Reading

    More Voter Guides

    City of Los Angeles

    L.A. County

    • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
    • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

    How to evaluate judges

    California propositions

    • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
    • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
    • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

    Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.