Backers of an initiative to curb mega-developments in Los Angeles turned in nearly 104,000 signatures to the city clerk’s office Wednesday, 67 percent more than the 62,000 needed to place the measure on next March’s ballot.
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would place a two-year moratorium on major developments and prohibit most “spot zoning,” where variances from community plans are granted for development projects. The coalition of neighborhood activists behind the initiative is led and largely funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Last week, knowing they had more than enough signatures in hand to qualify the measure, initiative backers met with Mayor Eric Garcetti to give him and other city officials the opportunity to come up with their own proposals to restrict large-scale developments in the city. Garcetti said he was in agreement with many of the views expressed by initiative backers. But the only concrete proposal he offered -notifying the public of closed-door meetings between developers/lobbyists and city officials – did not go nearly far enough to satisfy initiative backers who demanded that those closed-door meetings be banned altogether.
Speaking at a news conference in South Los Angeles Wednesday morning, Luis Saldivar, a member of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, said the initiative was necessary to slow the pace of large developments that displace long-time residents from affordable housing units.
“We’re displacing people in Los Angeles [ranging] from South Central to the San Fernando Valley,” Saldivar said. “You need to plan before you build. You can’t build, build, build.”
The initiative is opposed by a coalition that includes business and developer groups, labor unions, nonprofits, and civic leaders, who say halting development projects will worsen the region’s affordable housing crisis.
“Angelenos want to make housing affordable, they want to ensure that veterans don’t end up on the streets, and they want to protect Los Angeles’s economic rebound,” said Gary Toebben, chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “They understand that the so-called Neighborhood Integrity Initiative goes too far and doesn’t fix anything – in fact, it makes the problems we care about even worse.”
Once the measure is officially certified for the ballot, expected sometime next month, the City Council will have the option of enacting the provisions of the initiative within 30 days or letting it go onto the ballot.
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.