Representatives from business, affordable housing and labor groups officially launched their campaign Monday against an initiative on the March Los Angeles city ballot measure that would place a two-year moratorium on major development projects and place permanent restrictions on mega-developments.

Speaking in a parking lot in Lincoln Heights that is the site of a proposed project to house the chronically homeless, opponents of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative pressed their case that the measure would deprive the city of badly-needed housing for the homeless and working poor.

Related Link: L.A. Council Places Building Moratorium Initiative on March Ballot

“The backers of this housing ban are trying to fool the public into thinking they are only going after a few quote-on-quote ‘mega-developments,’” said Gary Toebben, chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “This initiative would cripple our city’s ability to build the housing we need to end homelessness for veterans, families and the chronically homeless.”

Toebben said the initiative would block construction of projects specifically for the homeless at 11 of 12 sites designated by the city.

Labor groups also joined in the opposition, making for an unusually broad-based coalition.

“Unite HERE doesn’t often see eye to eye with the Chamber of Commerce,” said Rachel Torres, Senior Research Analyst of Unite HERE Local 11, which represents local hotel and restaurant workers. “But we agree that our city needs to unite to defeat this housing ban. This is anti-worker, anti-renter policy. We need development reform that drives down rents and helps end homelessness.”

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would place a two-year moratorium on major developments, 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, which became galvanized after the city approved two towers for developer Crescent Heights’ Palladium project next to the foundation’s Hollywood headquarters.

Related Link: Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Submits Signatures for Ballot Measure

Speaking at a news conference in South Los Angeles back in August when proponents submitted nearly 104,000 signatures for the measure, 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.”

Read More: Anti-Development Initiative Postponed

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

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