Spotlight on a Ballot Measure – Measure S


This particular Measure has become one of the most contentious measures for the City in years.  The fact is, it can’t get any more bizarre then it is now and we regret not addressing this and Measure JJJ in November.


Over the last several years, aided by politicians hungry for campaign contributions, the development industry made a massive push for higher density building in Los Angeles.  Its beginnings came out of the now defunct CRA.  Their programs were designed to redevelop what were deemed distressed areas and the birth of the trend that brought us a massive spike in the “incubator” known as the Arts District started the MEGA ball rolling.  In addition to the Arts District and then subsequently Downtown, District 13 was also a testing ground with politicians falling over themselves to rubberstamp more and more mega projects while campaign dollars flowed in.

Fast forward a few years later and we land in a city where rents have doubled, people are being evicted in droves to make way for new luxury condos, home ownership is again out of reach and hundreds of lawsuits have been filed all over the City.  The City’s response to the massive protest to their bad Land Use policy was to double down.

The 150K units that the Mayor’s office mandated as its housing goal should be noted that it is not only NOT an affordable mandate, but it also leaves out the part that it’s not even for existing constituents.  The push is about the Olympics and adding it to a resume for future service.  You don’t get a 2 + million dollar war chest listening to your continuents.

After the meetings went nowhere, the Measure S team recognized that they had not made an accommodation for affordable housing themselves so they pulled the initiative off the November Ballot despite the competing measure coming from labor and started again for the March Ballot.


Measure JJJ was presented by Labor with a 40% affordable housing component and the use of local labor however what they left out in the campaign is that the measure actually does nothing to hold the city accountable. There’s no change in planning requirements and actually limits the City’s ability to deny General Plan amendments for certain projects.  It also requires that union labor be used even on affordable projects drastically increasing costs without substantive overhaul of the planning process.

Labor is now spending millions to defeat Measure S because if it wins and beats their 64.8% margin they lose JJJ to Measure S, so when you see notices talking about people coalescing around the opposing to S, take it with a grain of salt.


City electeds are completely out of control.  They don’t even care that they are being busted by the community on hosting fundraising events catering to developers literally days before critical votes at PLUM.  Years of spot zoning, systematically ignoring and overriding community plans, employees being forced out and having to commute 20 and 30 miles for a minimum wage job because they can’t afford the rent, reports to the ethics commission on what are clear violations go unaddressed and on an on.  THIS is what made communities say enough is enough.

Whether you love him or hate him the sponsor of the measure is irrelevant.  What must be recognized here is intent.

The LAG4O team spent a full year researching this measure talking to planners, land use consultants, ceqa engineers and activists.  There was little to know reasoning to not support it other than some land use consultants would have a light couple of years.  We pressed the No people to provide analysis over and over and over again and they either had no response, their organizers were completely misinformed or they launched into name calling and hyperbole saying the world would end if enacted; a tactic we have all grown quite familiar with under NotQualifiedPotus 45.

Developers sit on properties for years so a two year sunseting moratorium is a blip in their world.  Developers who are producing actual and 100% affordable housing are exempt and will be allowed to build projects that go beyond L.A.’s zoning and height restrictions.

Only in a LA do communities have to demand a “time-out” from their electeds to force them to do their jobs.

Measure S gives a time out on mega developments while requiring an overhaul to the General and Community Plans.   Spot zoning, (a new favorite of developers in the last few years and also a favorite of electeds) would not be allowable under the measure, and only 100% affordable projects or by right projects would be allowed. Or in other words, any projects requiring a general plan amendment would not move forward unless it was 100% affordable. It further prevents the fox from guarding the chicken coup by requiring that EIR’s be done independently from the developer.  Currently developers conduct their own environmental review.  (A motion written in April of 2016, which passed committee, was voted on recently by the full City Council.  The motion moves to change the way the city handles EIR requirements and how the City updates and reviews the General Plan)


The Top Ten Contributors AGAINST Measure S are ALL Billionaires

(Individuals and Companies giving to “Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs,” as of 2/6/2017, LA City Ethics Commission Website)

Sonny Kahn and his Cousin, Miami skyscraper billionaires

The Kahn’s are trying to develop two huge skyscrapers in Century City and Hollywood with no known affordable units. The Developers are seeking a way around low-rise zoning in Hollywood and their height demand is banned by the Community Plan.


Frank McCourt, Bev Hills billionaire developer, ex-Dodgers owner

McCourt wants to fill Dodger Stadium parking lots, which he owns, with a luxury mini-city, banned by Community Plan and zoning.


Frank Lowy and Family, Australian Mall mega-billionaires

Frank Lowy, a global shopping Mega Billionaire wants a 15,000 seat Stadium “arena” in quiet Woodland Hills, almost as big as The Forum. Banned by zoning.


JMB Realty, co-founder is Neil Bluhm, Chicago skyscraper billionaire


Victor Coleman, billion-level portfolio of offices across Silicon Valley now speculating on land in LA

Wants luxury office towers in various locales where zoning does not to allow skyscrapers.


Lowe billionaires of L.A., luxury resort developers, possibly seeking zone change to turn rare Open Space into intensive use luxury hotel

Resort hotel billionaires from LA.  Seeking open-space zoned land ear marked for a park for another luxury hotel on Westside, banned by zoning and Community Plan.


John B. Kilroy Jr., Billionaire heir, land speculator and skyscraper developer

Billionaire heir wants to build The Academy, a $300 million mega-development sprawling across a full city block at gridlocked Vine and DeLongpre, banned by local zoning and Community Plan.


Phil Anschutz, AEG mega-billionaire

Worth $12.4 billion, does not appear to be seeking major changes around the liberal zoning rules Downtown.


Clyde Holland, Vancouver billionaire, skyscraper mogul eyeing Downtown LA and San Pedro

Trump backer and speculator broke ground on huge luxury complex on long-ago historic Union Rescue Mission site near the LA Times. Now seeking skyscraper sites in areas where zoning does not allow it.


Rick Campo and Keith Oden, developers control a Houston $1.1 billion Camden Property Trust, unknown backroom players

Camden has multiple projects in and around Downtown LA and is developing in direct opposition to the community plan and community wishes


We must stop private for proper fit corporations from taking over our City and our politicians.

The world will not end and life and building in our city will continue, just in a way that protects our neighborhoods and reminds electeds that they work for us and are only “on loan” and temporary to our communities.

Your voice Matters.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Posted in 2017.