L.A. Affordable Housing Initiative Placed on November Ballot


The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday formally placed a labor-backed affordable housing measure on the November ballot.

The Build Better L.A. initiative, sponsored by a coalition of labor groups and nonprofit affordable housing developers, had already qualified for the ballot in May after submitting more than 100,000 signatures. Under the city charter, once an initiative qualifies, city councilmembers have the option of enacting the provisions into law themselves or placing it on the ballot. Thirteen councilmembers voted Tuesday to leave the final decision up to the voters.

The initiative, spearheaded by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, was originally intended as labor’s counter to the Neighborhood Integrity initiative also aiming for the November ballot. The Neighborhood Integrity measure would place a two-year moratorium on most major projects in the city and impose stricter limits on development going forward – labor and business groups have strongly opposed it.

In February, backers of the Neighborhood Integrity initiative, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, opted to place that measure on the March 2017 citywide ballot, so now the Build Better L.A. initiative is the only one of the two on the November ballot.

“This November, voters across Los Angeles will finally get the opportunity to vote on housing that’s actually affordable and quality jobs to be able to thrive in this City,” Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement.

Under the Build Better L.A. initiative, developers of multifamily projects would be required to set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income housing – either onsite or nearby – or pay an “in-lieu” fee to the city. Also, a certain percentage of construction jobs on major projects must go to low-income people or nearby residents.

Opposition to the measure is expected from for-profit developers and some business groups.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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