LOS ANGELES — Proponents of a ballot measure that would temporarily halt most major development projects in Los Angeles have postponed their campaign until next March’s election because other issues on the November ballot will divert attention from their initiative.
The coalition behind the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative originally hoped to get the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. Proponents said they have dropped those plans because they feel the measure would have trouble competing for the attention of voters, with local measures expected to be listed behind an estimated 20 statewide measures.
“Our initiative is too important to be buried at the tail-end of this November’s ballot — which is beginning to look like it will be historically long and confusing,” said the measure’s campaign director, Jill Stewart. “The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a watershed movement that deserves the undivided attention of the city’s voters and its media.”
The March election, in contrast, will be focused on the city, with the mayor, City Council members, city attorney and city controller also on the ballot.
The measure calls for a two-year moratorium on major developments that require amendments or exceptions to the existing zoning code. Proponents say such amendments favor big developers with lobbyists and special influence at City Hall. Such projects in turn often create traffic congestion and other headaches for residents, according to proponents.
Mike Shimpock, a spokesman for Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs, which opposes the measure, said the measure’s proponents are “shopping for more favorable elections,” knowing they are likely to lose in November.
“They want to move it from an election where virtually everyone votes to an election where virtually no one votes,” Shimpock said. “That’s because they lose when people who vote hear about their extremist plans for Los Angeles.”
But neighborhood advocates disputed Shimpock, saying they favor the initiative because of what uncontrolled is doing to their neighborhoods.
“It really is sad that I lived in this area for years and now [because of favors granted to developers] … affordable housing is being completely wiped out,” said Marissa Stewart, a Palms neighborhood leader and activist. She talked about a four-unit affordable apartment in Palms, that has been turned into a “small lot subdivision” of five box-like homes that tower over the land.
Even in modest Palms, these homes sold for $1.2 million each. City Hall’s tolerance of development at any cost creates unstable communities where there’s no sense of neighborhood or place and where crime can fester.
“We should be safe in our homes, but when everyone has to move there’s no safety,” Stewart said.
George Abrahams, a veteran Hollywood community activist, said the relationship between the city’s Planning Department employees and developers is too close.
“What we have at City Hall is campaign contribution planning,” Abrahams said, adding that costs incurred by the Department of Planning in processing proposed major projects is often reimbursed by the developers.
Sasha Ali, a young activist fighting a developer’s project in Hollywood, said the investor in a 50-unit apartment building in Hollywood is seeking to evict the seniors, veterans and family tenants,
When Ali and her fellow tenants asked the owner where they were supposed to live, he told them they should move to a lower-rent neighborhood, she said.