An initiative to change the city's laws governing changes to the general plan and development projects, Measure S, will be on the ballot for voters in Los Angeles, California, on March 7, 2017.
This initiative is known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.
A "yes" vote is a vote in support of
- imposing a moratorium on construction that increases development density, for up to two years,
- prohibiting project-specific amendments to the city's general plan,
- requiring a public review of the city's general plan every five years,
- requiring city staff (not developers the city's general applicants)to perform environmental impact reports, and establishing other changes plan laws. A "no" vote is a vote to reject the initiative, leaving the city's zoning and development laws unchanged.
The initiative will not stop all development but rather, would put a pause button on all development projects requiring variances, or changes to the restrictions imposed on development. These variances are granted without discussion by City Hall and accusations of developers contributing to City Council coffers and getting their variances have become the norm.
So the 2 year moratorium would specifically not permit the following:
- zoning that lifts land-use restrictions or increases permitted building heights;
- zoning changes that increase the allowed density or height of buildings; or a net loss of land dedicated to open space, agriculture, or industry.
The moratorium would end after two years or when the city council passed "(1) an updated General Plan Framework and (2) an updated community plan text and zoning map for a particular community plan area," whichever came first.
Measure S was designed to grant exceptions from this two-year moratorium in the following cases:
- Any development project that is restricted entirely to affordable housing units and that could be completed through zoning or height limit changes without amending the city's general plan.
- Any permit required to comply with an order from the Department of Building and Safety to rebuild a structure after destruction by a natural disaster—such as a fire or an earthquake.
- Development or construction projects that have a vested right under state or city law.
To qualify as affordable housing, each residential unit in the development would have to be affordable to a household that generally makes no more than 80 percent of the area's median household income, as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
As of May 24, 2016, the Los Angeles County's median household income for a family of four was $64,800. A residential unit would be considered affordable according to rules established by state law, which requires housing to cost no more than about 30 percent of a household's income level
PROHIBITION OF SPOT-ZONING FOR SPECIFIC PROJECTS
Measure S would also establish a permanent prohibition against project-specific amendments to the city's general plan. This provision would prevent changes to the general plan unless they applied to “an area which has significant social, economic, or physical identity.” The initiative defined such areas as:
- An entire community or district plan area;
- An entire area that has been included in a specific plan;
- An entire named neighborhood council area;
- An area no less than 15 acres.
This provision was designed to prevent changes to the city's zoning laws that accommodate a specific development project without taking into consideration the entire community or neighborhood in which that project was proposed.
PUBLIC REVIEW OF GENERAL PLAN
Measure S would establish a requirement that the city's general plan go through a public review process every five years, including a review of the city's 35 Community Plans and the Port and Airport District Plans. Measure S was also written to require public hearings during this review period to take place in the evening or on weekends to increase accessibility. The initiative would also require that at least one public hearing be held concerning any proposed changes to a Community Plan or District Plan within the affected community.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORTS (EIR)
Measure S would require city staff to perform environmental impact reviews and author environmental impact reports for proposed development projects. The initiative was designed to prevent developers and project applicants—or third parties hired by applicants—from performing the environmental impact reports for their own projects.
City law allows the City Planning Commission to, upon application or appeal, reduce the amount of on-site parking required for a given area—often to accommodate development. Measure S would amend this provision to allow reduction in on-site parking requirements by no more than one-third.
The following summary was prepared by the Los Angeles City Attorney's office for inclusion on the signature petition forms for this initiative:
“BUILDING MORATORIUM; RESTRICTIONS ON GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENTS; REQUIRED REVIEW OF GENERAL PLAN. INITIATIVE ORDINANCE S.
Shall an ordinance amending City laws related to the General Plan, including to:
1) impose a two-year moratorium on projects seeking General Plan amendments or zone or height-district changes resulting in more intense land use, an increase in density or height, or a loss of zoned open space, agricultural or industrial areas, with exceptions including for affordable housing projects and projects for which vested rights have accrued;
2) 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);
3) require systematic, public review of the General Plan every five years;
4) prohibit project applicants from completing their own environmental impact reports for the City;
5) require the City make findings of General Plan consistency for planning amendments, project approvals and permit decisions;
6) prohibit certain parking variances; be adopted”
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.