Measure S Opponents Agree to Change Ballot Argument LanguageWednesday, January 4, 2017
Opponents of a ballot measure that would limit development in Los Angeles announced late Wednesday that they have reached an agreement to change the language of their ballot argument to settle a lawsuit brought last month by supporters.
Measure S opponents, including a wide array of business, labor, and nonprofit groups, agreed to remove from their argument the most extreme predictions of losses in jobs, economic activity, and government tax revenues that could result if the measure were to take effect.
Opponents also agreed to remove the word “independent” when referencing an economic analysis of the measure prepared by L.A. economic consulting firm Beacon Economics, which is the opponents’ paid consultant.
The revised ballot argument language was set to go before Superior Court Judge James Chalfant on Thursday morning.
Measure S, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative that is on the March ballot, 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 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.
In the proposed settlement of the lawsuit, the revisions to the opponents’ ballot argument language remove references to losses in jobs, economic activity, and government tax revenues over 10 years and replace those references with more modest two-year estimates also contained in the Beacon analysis. The moratorium in Measure S would only last two years; the Beacon analysis also included figures going out 10 years, assuming that under the more stringent project approval conditions outlined in the ordinance, few if any projects would get approved for at least 10 years.
Read more about the lawsuit here.
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.