While the political focus now is very much on next month’s general election, many Angelenos have an eye on the March 2017 ballot—in particular, a measure set to put restrictions on new developments in Los Angeles.
The Restrictions on the General Plan Amendments Initiative, better known as the “Neighborhood Integrity” Initiative, was put forth by The Coalition to Preserve L.A. (CPLA) and was originally set to appear on next month’s ballot. Despite opposition, the measure was approved by its respective municipal bodies and proponents of the measure decided to push it to the March 2017 ballot.
CPLA claims that the city’s planning system is corrupt and that irresponsible development is disrupting the cultural integrity of Los Angeles. They believe the system “pushes forward luxury mega-projects that cause traffic gridlock, the destruction of neighborhood character, and the displacement of longtime residents, including senior citizens on fixed budgets.”
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative proposes to:
- Direct officials to stop amending the city’s General Plan for developers and projects of their choosing (also known as Spot Zoning)
- Require the City Planning Commission to update the city’s General Plan and to review and align all current zoning codes with it
- Make city employees directly responsible for environmental review of major development projects
- Impose a temporary construction moratorium for projects previously approved by the city that have increased density, until officials perform a complete review of community plans
Opponents of the measure say that it is anti-growth and have concern regarding how it will impact the ever-expanding city population. Housing shortages in L.A. are no secret as the current inventory of dwellings cannot sustain the growing population and demand for affordable housing. The city’s ability to amend city codes allows for expedited building and several projects could come to a halt should the ballot pass.
Some believe we simply need to further the conversation. Architecture Critic for the Los Angeles Times Christopher Hawthorne took to Twitter and said, “we need to have a more substantive conversation about what precisely we are trying or want to preserve,” also reminding long-time Los Angeles homeowners how fortunate they are considering the exponential spike in value their homes have experienced, due in part to new development.
Others believe the issue can be solved on a systemic level by way of the city. “The current entitlement process is situation specific and very opaque which has created the confusion that exists today,” says Horacio LeDon, Head of New Development at Partners Trust. “Planning officials should establish a uniform and thoughtful development protocol that takes the guessing game out of the entitlement process and gives clear guidance as to what can be built or not.”
The full text of the measure is available here.