The Executive Committee of Valley VOTE, a diverse coalition of San Fernando Valley residents, businesses and civic organizations, urges the people of Los Angeles to vote in favor of Measure S, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, on the March 7 ballot. Only by approving Measure S can ordinary citizens of Los Angeles take back control of their neighborhoods from property developers who collude with city politicians to build massive projects out of scale with their surroundings.
Measure S will implement a two-year moratorium on mega-construction projects that create traffic, displace longtime residents and destroy neighborhoods. The two years would be used to update residential and commercial zoning plans that are decades out of date. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council have used obsolete zoning as an excuse to grant exemptions and variances on an ad hoc basis. This “pay to play” decision making, otherwise known as “spot zoning,” enriches politicians and developers while leaving citizens living in the shadow of luxury high-rises and searching in vain for a place to park.
Measure S mandates several needed reforms. Right now developers can ignore the disruption their projects cause by writing their own Environmental Impact Reports. Measure S requires that independent experts assess potential traffic and environmental degradation and the assessments be paid for by the developers themselves. Prior to the start of construction, developers will have to show that their projects do not burden the community with parking and traffic gridlock.
Today, developers make cash donations to city politicians who then agree not to enforce existing regulations. According to LA Ethics Commission filings, lobbyists were paid a staggering $44.7 million in the first three quarters of 2016 to influence elected officials behind closed doors. Measure S would force meetings into the open and insist the city council follow a publicly agreed upon General Plan.
Property developers are waging a campaign of disinformation. They say the initiative will prevent the city from building affordable housing. This is not true. Measure S has no negative effect on affordable housing. Indeed, it will prevent affordable units from being destroyed as they often are today when condo towers are built. Developers insist a pause in massive development will cost jobs. This is unlikely since City Hall already has said the recently passed $120 million in mass transit improvements will create 465,000 new jobs.
Valley VOTE believes healthy cities are growing cities. We anticipate high-rise development around metro stations and along some commercial thoroughfares. But development should occur within the scope of agreed-upon zoning. Measure S provides the opportunity for city officials and neighborhood leaders to mutually decide what is right for their communities.
For further information please contact Valley VOTE director David DeVoss at (818) 793-7120