Los Angeles Business Journal

Gov. Brown Comes Out Against Measure S

By Howard Fine Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday formally announced his opposition to Measure S, the anti-development initiative on the March 7 Los Angeles city ballot.

“I join with all those who say Measure S goes too far,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown is the highest-profile elected official to oppose Measure S; most L.A. city elected officials including Mayor Eric Garcetti, long ago announced their opposition.

Measure S, or the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, would impose a two-year moratorium on all major commercial and multifamily residential projects that require a zone or height limit change or an amendment to the city’s general planning document. After that two-year period ends, the measure would limit the city’s ability to change city zoning and planning rules for development projects.

Proponents include a coalition of community activists and homeowner groups bankrolled by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which first crafted the measure after voicing opposition to the Hollywood Palladium Project by Los Angeles developer Crescent Heights across from its headquarters. They argue that a “pay-to-play” system of development approvals has resulted in projects out-of-scale with surrounding neighborhoods and contributing to traffic congestion and evictions of moderate-income renters.

Opponents include a broad coalition of business groups, developers, nonprofits, labor unions, and civic leaders. They say the two-year moratorium would bring most development in the city to a halt and that much-needed housing projects would be more difficult, if not impossible to build over the longer term.

Brown has emphasized in his budget proposals the need to boost housing supply. His most recent budget proposal warned against measures that restrict development, though it did not specifically mention Measure S.

Reacting to Brown’s statement of opposition, Measure S supporters issued their own statement, saying that Brown’s opposition was long-expected given his previous attempts to alter the California Environmental Quality Act to speed up approvals for housing and other major projects.

“We’re not surprised Gov. Brown has come out swinging against Measure S,” Jill Stewart, campaign director for Yes on S said. “We say health and environmental safety must come first - families should not be placed in apartments built on seeping brown fields or jammed next to freeways sitting in an invisible river of toxins. It’s an outrageous position for Gov. Brown.”

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.