Backers of an anti-development initiative in Los Angeles on Tuesday announced they have dropped plans to place the measure on the November ballot and instead will attempt to qualify it for the March 2017 city ballot.

The Coalition to Preserve L.A. said at a news conference in front of City Hall that that with more than 20 state and local measures likely to appear on the November ballot, it was too crowded for their measure and that, with fewer measures expected, the March 2017 city election ballot was more promising.

“Our initiative is too important to be buried at the tail-end of this November’s ballot,” Coalition to Preserve L.A. campaign director Jill Stewart explained at today's gathering, “which is beginning to look like it will be. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a watershed movement that deserves the undivided attention of the city’s voters and its media.”

Backers noted that with several contested L.A. City Council seats on the March 2017 ballot, the initiative would become a central focus of candidate debates, boosting citizen interest in the measure.

As a result of the decision, signature gathering has stopped and the initiative language is being refined. The revised measure will then be resubmitted to the City Clerk and then must gather 61,486 signatures by the end of August to qualify for the March 2017 ballot.

In its current form, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would impose a moratorium of up to two years on major development projects and would place additional hurdles for approvals of projects requiring amendments to the city’s general plan. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has taken the lead in promoting the initiative because it opposes the Hollywood Palladium project next to its headquarters; that project calls for two mixed-use towers up to 28 stories tall.

The coalition of business and labor groups opposing the measure, known as the Coalition to Protect L.A Neighborhoods and Jobs, issued a statement saying the move was an attempt to limit voter input.

“There is a projected 60 percent drop off in voter participation between November and March,” said spokesman Mike Shimpock. “They (initiative proponents) are trying to limit the number of Angelenos who can weigh in on their extreme plans, because voters understand this initiative goes too far and will drive up rents, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and make it impossible to address L.A.’s exploding homeless problem.”

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