No on Measure S
Measure S is an exceedingly deceptive ballot initiative. It promises affordable housing, less traffic, and reduced homelessness, and delivers exactly the opposite. If you need to know one thing about Measure S, it’s that every organization committed to providing affordable housing, reducing homelessness, and protecting tenant’s rights is opposed to it. Measure S imposes a two year ban on the use of zone changes and height district changes for new housing developments in Los Angeles, and permanently bans general plan amendments for such projects. The practical effect of this—due to the outdated nature of our general plan and community plans—is to immediately stop the construction of a huge amount of homes just as we’re in the midst of a historic housing shortage and our population continues to grow.
This will give landlords greater leverage over renters, freeing them to raise rents even faster. By stopping development on parking lots and industrial sites—where general plan and zone changes are most frequently used—it will also push more investors to purchase existing housing, evict its tenants, and either rebuild at higher density or upgrade the existing units to appeal to higher-earners (or turn them into condos). The initiative is also entirely contrary to the goals outlined by LA voters this November: If Measure S is approved, it will nullify the affordable housing and living-wage jobs benefits of Measures JJJ, and make building permanent supportive housing for the homeless, funded by Measure HHH, much more difficult and expensive.
Measure S is the “Make Los Angeles Great Again” of ballot initiatives, and it’s steeped in the same backward-looking nostalgia that views our city’s best days as being behind it. Or as Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times put it: Measure S is “an expression of mourning for an L.A. that is already dead, a city of single-family subdivisions, highway construction, discriminatory zoning and free parking that worked (to the degree that it ever did) only as long as the region continued to sprawl voraciously at the edges.” Vote No, and tell everyone you know to do the same. It was moved from the November ballot to the March election specifically to appeal to an older, wealthier demographic, with far smaller turnout, because it knew it couldn’t compete with Measure JJJ on its merits. Don’t allow that cynical ploy to pay off; every renter and future generation will pay the consequences if it passes.
Yes on Measure H
As the Los Angeles Times Endorsement for Measure H stated: “Homeless people don’t just need housing – they need services to get and stay housed.” Measure H will raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for 10 years, and generate about $355 million annually for supportive services such as mental health and job training, to help individuals get placed in housing—and stay there. With over 45,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles County region, Measure H will complement the City of LA’s plan to build 10,000 units of supportive, permanent housing funded by Proposition HHH, passed in November with 77% approval. It’s a smart investment that does right by our homeless neighbors and will pay dividends in the future.
Eric Garcetti for Mayor
In his first term as mayor, Eric Garcetti has emphasized the importance of housing affordability to the future of Los Angeles, and has led the city to enact important initiatives on subjects including transportation, homelessness, livable wages, and affordable housing production. With a call for even bolder action in the coming years, Abundant Housing LA endorses him for a second term as mayor.
When Mayor Garcetti announced a city-wide goal of building 100,000 new homes over 8 years, housing production was at a 10-year low. Since that time, production in the city has risen from 3,600 units in 2009 to just under 16,000 in 2016. Garcetti deserves some of the credit for this, but we also believe that he can and should strive for much more: LA built between 150,000 and 250,000 units every decade until the 1990s, and the scale of our affordability crisis demands a return to similar levels of production. We also worry that his recent emphasis on a zero-sum development (“linkage”) fee to fund affordable housing is short-sighted, and will ultimately be counterproductive, reducing affordability for hundreds of thousands of households for the benefit of far fewer. His forceful support for Measure HHH and transit-oriented development is laudable, but these efforts are not enough to set us apart from other cities, like San Francisco and New York, that have become increasingly unaffordable.
Mayor Garcetti polls very favorably among his constituents, and should he win re-election this March we urge him to use that political capital to boldly and aggressively address our city’s housing shortage. Declining affordability is the greatest threat to the future of Los Angeles. In his first term, our city has found a relatively solid financial footing and laid the groundwork for continued growth and evolution. If voters grant Mayor Garcetti a second term, we urge him to expand upon that progress and make housing policy a top-tier priority, inviting innovation and novel approaches that will set LA apart from other unaffordable global cities.
Joseph Bray-Ali or Gil Cedillo for CD 1
For CD 1, Abundant Housing LA issues a dual endorsement: We encourage a vote for either Gil Cedillo or Joseph Bray-Ali.
Incumbent Councilmember Cedillo has a strong record of pro-housing views throughout his career, and as chair of the City Council’s Housing Committee he introduced a “House LA” package of motions that would advance housing production and tenants’ rights. These proposals, however, have not proceeded with the speed needed to address LA’s severe housing crisis, partly due to the Councilmember’s somewhat aloof governing style, which has hampered his effectiveness. If re-elected, we hope that Councilmember Cedillo will improve his relations with residents and other elected officials in order to build consensus on the need for more housing.
Challenger Bray-Ali is a small business person who wants to reform the development process, remove outdated parking requirements and help shepherd residents and small developers through red tape. These steps would help unlock many small projects to incrementally expand the city’s housing and commercial building stock and grow its tax base. While his focus on small-scale development is badly needed, we hope that if Bray-Ali is elected, he will accept that the severity of our housing crisis also require medium and large scale development in CD 1 and across the city.
No Endorsement for CD 5
Abundant Housing LA does not endorse any of the three candidates for City Council in CD5.
Although Councilmember Paul Koretz acknowledges that Los Angeles is in the midst of a housing crisis, he has not done anything during his two terms as a City Councilmember to advance a long-term solution to the problem of high housing costs in LA. Meanwhile, throughout this campaign, his opponent, Jesse Creed, has deployed the same anti-housing rhetoric that is in large part responsible for LA’s housing crisis in the first place. Creed has shown even less willingness to lead on this issue than Koretz; we expected better from someone who offered to bring bold new ideas to City Hall. Finally, Mark M. Herd, the third City Council candidate from CD5, has lent his full-throated support to the anti-development Measure S. Herd espouses the burn-it-all-down mentality that animates the “Yes on S” movement, and he stands in stark opposition to those of us who believe (and numerous studies which confirm) that new housing will improve the lives of millions of Angelenos across the income spectrum.
While we recognize that the politics of Council District 5 make it difficult to be aggressively pro-growth, we believe that the candidates have missed an opportunity to define a more positive and inclusive vision for the future of Los Angeles. Instead, in their rush to battle for the title of “most anti-developer,” they have only managed to further poison the well against desperately-needed housing in one of the highest-opportunity areas in our region.
Monica Rodriguez for CD 7
Abundant Housing LA endorses Monica Rodriguez for Council District 7. Not only does she recognize the causes of the housing crisis, she has concrete ideas to reduce the cost of housing for the families of her district and across the city, as well as the know-how to make those ideas a reality.
She opposes Measure S because it will worsen our ongoing housing crisis. Once Measure S is defeated, she believes in two major positive efforts going forward. First, to simplify the development review process so that both community stakeholders and developers understand what can and cannot be built, thereby improving transparency and encouraging housing production by de-politicizing the approval process. Second, to upzone along our existing and new transit corridors, both within CD 7 and across the city. Doing so will allow for preservation of our existing open spaces, while creating the new affordable and market rate housing we desperately need, all with easy access to transit in order to reduce traffic, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Monica has more than twenty years of experience in housing and government, and is ready to enact her policies at City Hall. Monica served on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works as a Commissioner from 2013 to August 2016 (when she resigned to begin her campaign for CD 7), and previously served in the offices of Mayor Richard Riordan, Councilmembers Mike Hernandez and Richard Alarcon, and as Chief Deputy to School Board President Caprice Young. She also led the California Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Fund, where she oversaw $75M of workforce housing development.
Curren Price for CD 9
Curren Price has made economic development in CD 9 the hallmark of his first term on the LA City Council. CM Price and community leaders worked hard to demonstrate LA’s unique housing needs to a reluctant HUD in order to win a Promise Zone designation in South Los Angeles that confers millions in federal dollars to invest and reduce poverty. Price has supported 10 rent-restricted housing projects in CD 9 – more than in any other council district. He has also withstood local opposition and negotiated community benefits agreements from several mixed-use projects which will create thousands of market rate and affordable housing units and secure millions of dollars for the city’s affordable housing trust fund and services for low-income workers and families.
Curren Price’s commitment to balance development with meaningful community benefits is a promising way forward for a district that has seen relatively little development or investment in the last several decades. Abundant Housing LA join numerous labor unions, community leaders, and Local and state representatives to endorse Curren Price for Council District 9 in 2017.
Mike Bonin for CD 11
Councilmember Bonin has been deeply committed to finding housing solutions on the Westside, a part of LA that does not always welcome new residents. He helped identify city-owned properties that could be used for housing or as a place for homeless people to store their belongings, and has established funds for more rental subsidy vouchers. Bonin has also taken steps to provide temporary housing for people in need through arrangements with non-profits and community groups. Very recently, he worked to approve the Martin Expo Town Center, a transit-oriented development (one block from the Expo/Bundy station) that will have over 500 housing units, 20 percent of which will be affordable housing and five percent of which will go to housing the recently homeless.
Councilmember Bonin represents the type of smart, thoughtful leadership on housing that the city needs more of, and is a fine example of an elected representative who listens to his constituents but also has the strength of character to lead the way forward when he knows what is right.
Mitch O’Farrell for CD 13
An early and vocal opponent of Measure S, O’Farrell has generally supported construction of more residential units in projects large and small – including, by his office’s estimation, a net gain of 1,000 affordable units in the district. He has supported good urban planning practices, including preservation of the historic Palladium and Earl Carroll theaters, an all-way pedestrian crosswalk at the dangerous Hollywood & Highland intersection, and concentrating dense new development near transit. O’Farrell has also proposed innovative policies like an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District along the Los Angeles River to generate funds for affordable housing and infrastructure and a “value capture” system to ensure that valuable upzoning results in either new units set aside for low-income residents or funds paid into the city’s housing trust fund. We hope that Councilman O’Farrell will use his next term to follow through on his support for updating community plans while resisting local pressures to downzone portions of his district.
Joe Buscaino for CD 15
Councilmember Buscaino recognizes that we have not built enough housing to keep up with population growth, and that this is a root cause of the increasingly unaffordable rents seen across Los Angeles. He also correctly notes that the current system has forced nearly all development into a few neighborhoods like downtown LA and Hollywood, while making it impossible for many other neighborhoods to attract any investment. Joe has worked with his colleagues on City Council to propose campaign finance reforms that would prohibit developer contributions—which we stand behind if it increases public trust in the planning process—and supports updating the general plan and community plans in order to help build more housing to address the housing crisis. We haven’t seen much housing-related policy from Councilmember Buscaino’s office, but we were inspired by his recent outspoken support for development in his district and his vision for a more affordable and inclusive Los Angeles.
John Heilman for WeHo City Council
John Heilman’s record of working for more affordable housing goes back decades to the founding of the City of West Hollywood. Heilman was instrumental in the establishment of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, a City-funded organization that develops affordable housing in West Hollywood. He also helped develop the City’s landmark Rent Stabilization Ordinance, Green Building Ordinance, and inclusionary housing policy; and led efforts to install bike lanes on major streets in West Hollywood. Anti-development candidates are seeking control of the West hollywood City Council, so electing Heilman is especially important in 2017. Abundant Housing LA believes that Heilman will continue to promote building new housing in West Hollywood while working to keep housing affordable for longtime residents.