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Sat, May

Over-Development Initiative Encourages Playing by the Rules

LOS ANGELES

GUEST WORDS-A Committee of five registered voters in Los Angeles has gained a lot of traction in its effort to place a game changing initiative on the November ballot. The proposed “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative for a Livable Los Angeles” will give voters the power to stop over-sized development for the next two years.

The Committee is seeking 61,000 signatures for the measure to qualify for the November ballot. Jill Stewart, the former managing editor of the LA Weekly, was appointed as Campaign Director of the Initiative. 

“The proposed ordinance would amend City laws related to the General Plan, including to: 1) prohibit geographic amendments to the General Plan unless the affected area has significant social, economic or physical identity (defined as encompassing an entire community or district plan area, specific plan area, neighborhood council area or at least 15 acres); 2) require periodic, comprehensive review of General Plan based on principles identified in the ordinance; 3) require the City make findings of General Plan consistency for planning, zoning and building laws and decisions; 4) void existing zoning laws and regulations inconsistent with the General Plan; 5) prohibit project applicants from completing environmental impact reports for the City; 6) impose a two-year building moratorium, with certain exceptions, on projects for which the City granted, or which seek, General Plan amendments or zone or height-district changes resulting in more intense land use or rezoned open space, agricultural or industrial areas; and 7) prohibit certain parking variances.”  

If successful, the measure would stop developers from significantly reducing the parking spaces that are now required by the building code. It would put an end to allowing developers to write their own Environmental Impact Reports – a source of major bias. The proponents claim that “Megaprojects are worsening traffic and destroying neighborhood character. Today, cozy “density” deals between developers and politicians are destroying community character from Boyle Heights to Brentwood. Developers buy exemptions from the rules by contributing to City Hall. They make a ton of money on luxury mega-projects — and we get terrible traffic and congestion. 

The goal of the measure it not to stop all development, but rather to give the City time to create a new General Plan. It doesn't stop projects that conform to existing density and height limits. The measure permits the construction of any development that is allowed, as long as it does not require a General Plan Amendment of Zone Change from the City Council.  

Pasadena lawyer Robert Silverstein is a consultant on the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. Silverstein’s involvement is a real threat to the City Hall. He has won significant suits against the City and stalled massive apartment projects in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood, including the 325-unit Il Villaggio apartment project planned near the 101 and 405 interchange in Sherman Oaks.  

As expected, pro over-development groups will use big guns to fight the measure. The Central City Association is organizing opposition and fundraising to stop the proposed ballot initiative. They and other groups have a history of never opposing any new mega-development, regardless of the impacts on traffic and the environment. However, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative may finally force all developers to play by the rules.

 

(Gerald A. Silver is President of Homeowners of Encino. He served on the Citizens Advisory Committee that helped craft the Ventura Blvd. Specific Plan. He can be reached at [email protected].)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

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