Proponents of Measure S, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative to limit development in Los Angeles that is on the March ballot, have filed a lawsuit alleging the ballot argument by opponents is full of false claims and exaggerations about the initiative’s economic impact.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in state Superior Court in Los Angeles and referred to Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, seeks to have some of the language in the opponents’ ballot argument thrown out.
Measure S would place a two-year moratorium on most development projects in the city of Los Angeles that require a zoning plan amendment. After the moratorium ends, there would be restrictions on the practice of “spot zoning,” or amending a community plan to accommodate a specific project. It would also require the city to update its general zoning plans.
The initiative was placed on the March 7 ballot by a coalition of neighborhood activists upset with the proliferation of spot zoning in Hollywood and several other neighborhoods around Los Angeles. The primary financial backer is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Hollywood; the foundation opposes developer Crescent Heights’ Palladium towers project planned next door to its headquarters.
Opponents – including developers, businesses, and labor groups – say the measure will block most development projects that have a residential component, thereby worsening the region’s affordable housing crisis. They also claim the measure would cost thousands of construction jobs.
The language in the opponents’ ballot argument that Measure S supporters are challenging in court centers on the findings of a study released last week by Measure S opponents that was conducted by L.A.-based Beacon Economics; Beacon is a paid consultant for the opponents.
The opponents’ ballot argument references findings in the Beacon study that if Measure S were implemented, it would “destroy as many as 120,000 jobs, eliminate $3.8 billion in economic activity … and cost taxpayers $700 million in lost revenue.”
But these numbers in the Beacon study are based on an assumption of a 10-year moratorium on development projects requiring zone plan amendments, not the two-year moratorium specified in the initiative. That 10-year moratorium scenario assumes that even after the official moratorium ends, almost all of the projects would still be blocked for years until the community plans are updated.
In filing the lawsuit, proponents called the job loss and economic activity loss from a 10-year moratorium completely false and misleading.
“The biggest whoppers by Beacon are its ginned-up claims of massive job losses, based on a fake-news gambit that stretches the two-year moratorium contained in Measure S from two years to a false ‘10 years,’” Measure S campaign manager Jill Stewart said in a statement released Tuesday announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “Beacon and the opposition camp created an imaginary 10-year moratorium in order to wildly exaggerate their already badly-tainted, billionaire-backed phony jobs data and work up a ‘recession’ worthy of a bad fiction novel.”