August 25, 2016
City News Service Initiative
Proponents of a measure that would temporarily halt major development projects in Los Angeles said this week that they are moving forward with their initiative, after Mayor Eric Garcetti failed to offer up a substitute plan.
Jill Stewart, campaign director for The Coalition to Preserve L.A., said the group submitted a petition with nearly 104,000 signatures to the City Clerk, more than the 61,487 valid signatures needed to qualify the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative for the March 2017 ballot.
The campaign held a news conference on Wednesday to announce their plans to submit the signatures outside the proposed Cumulus project in South Los Angeles. Stewart said the project contains plans for skyscrapers that “ignores the community and is essentially a takeover of the existing community.”
The coalition's measure proposes to temporarily ban, for up to two years, projects that are denser, taller or contain more floor area than is allowed in existing zoning and land use rules for the area.
Developers must routinely ask the city to grant exceptions — known as general plan amendments — for those types of projects to be built. The coalition contends the process has become standard practice and creates cozy relationships between City Council members and developers.
The initiative is officially named “Building Moratorium; Restrictions on General Plan Amendments; Requires Review of General Plan.” Cecilia Reyes, a spokeswoman for the City Clerk’s office, said proponents turned in signatures for the measure today. The City Clerk has at least two weeks, and potentially up to a month and a half to review and verify the signatures, Reyes said.
The Coalition to Preserve L.A. said last week they would drop their initiative if the mayor came out this week with an alternative plan that met four terms laid out in a letter to him.
Stewart said today they have been expecting since April to see an alternate plan, but “so far we have seen nothing from the mayor,” other than a small increase in the number of planners and a 10-year timeline for updating community plans.
Last week, about 30 members of the campaign met personally with Garcetti to give him a final chance to meet their demands, Stewart said, but since then, the mayor’s staff has failed to reach out to them with anything “substantive,” except to say that they wished to “keep lines of communications open.”
The alternate terms laid out in a letter to Garcetti last week include banning “ex parte,” or private meetings between City Council members and developers, and instituting changes that make the process of updating the city's General Plan, which guides what is allowed to be built in the city, faster and more transparent.
The coalition is also demanding that “spot zoning,” in which developers request zoning changes, be reduced so that it becomes a rare occurrence, rather than standard practice.
A fourth proposed term would prohibit developers and lobbyists from being able to pick the consultants who write the environmental impact reports needed to allow the projects to go through.
The letter was signed by actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst, Chris Pine, Joaquin Phoenix, Chloe Sevigny and Garrett Hedlund, as well as several dozen representatives of community groups, businesses and homeowner associations.