On Tuesday March 7th, Angelenos will vote on Measure S, a ballot initiative proposing a ban on certain types of construction in the city of Los Angeles. Measure S is primarily sponsored by a single wealthy individual, Michael Weinstein, whose attempt to halt a large development in Hollywood that would block his office’s view of the mountains has spiraled into a catch all initiative that will hurt our city, especially people who are already struggling to pay ever-increasing rents.
Measure S will have a significant effect on affordable housing. It is estimated that Measure S, if passed, would block virtually all new housing projects in Los Angeles, particularly affordable housing for low-income families and permanent supportive housing for the homeless. While it seems obvious that banning the construction of new affordable housing (while demand increases) would worsen the housing crisis in Los Angeles and keep the homeless on the streets, supporters of Measure S claim that the initiative will “save our neighborhoods.” But who exactly they are saving “our” neighborhoods from?
Perhaps reading the full text of the initiative may give some answers. Even with a quick skim, one will ascertain that Measure S is explicitly anti-density, arguing that high density situations are a threat to public health and safety. But in Los Angeles, and many other urban areas in this country, the people living in high density areas are mostly lower income, non-white people.
Those in support of Measure S claim that projects built for 100% affordable housing units will be exempt from the ban. However, the initiative explicitly states that Measure S would ban new developments that require a general plan amendment, which is the case for a number of city-owned properties set aside for affordable housing. Here is a visualization of a number of casesthat meet this category.
The reality of housing development is that it is much easier to incentify a developer to include low-income units in a project if it is part of a mixed-use development (both affordable and market rate units). According to statistics from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, these units benefit mostly lower income non-white Angelenos. Supporters of Measure S argue that these types of developments are destroying neighborhoods. Are the supporters of Measure S against development? Or are they against certain people coming to their neighborhoods?
Measure S also poses substantial economic consequences by banning large swaths of construction in Los Angeles. All of the workers who would actually be building these projects will be out of a job, and the city will be forgoing millions of dollars worth of tax revenue from developments - taxpayer money that would be used for schools, parks, repairing city infrastructure, etc. This detailed independent economic analysis of the impact of Measure S shows how the initiative will hurt our city economically.
And if this hasn’t made it clear, here are seven more reasons to vote NO ON S, all backed up by data and sources.
In a time when truth is difficult to find, and when wealthy individuals have disproportionate power to influence politics, it is important that we as citizens dig deep to educate ourselves on the issues that affect us and our fellow Angelenos. What is even more important is that we as citizens VOTE on March 7th and in every election. In an election that is expected to have very low turnout (even for an issue as pressing as Measure S), EVERY VOTE COUNTS.
The coalition opposed to Measure S (which includes Mayor Garcetti, the ACLU, both the Democratic and Republican Party, the LA Times, the LA County Federation of Labor, and virtually every housing and homeless advocacy group in the area) needs volunteers to help get out the vote! Get informed and stay politically active!