Business & Economy

Your quick guide to Measure S

Measure S aims to restrict development in Los Angeles.
Measure S aims to restrict development in Los Angeles.
Frank Stoltze/ KPCC

On March 7, Angelenos will vote on Measure S, which would restrict development in the city. Here's a primer on the most controversial question on the ballot.

What is Measure S?
The initiative would impose a series of restrictions on development, most notably a two-year moratorium on certain real estate projects.

Which projects would fall under the moratorium?
Projects that require a land use change. An example would be a project that would be taller or wider than what the parcel is currently zoned for. Another example would be putting in apartments on a parking lot — that needs something known as a general plan amendment.

Why do projects need land use changes?
The city hasn't updated the land use regulations that govern different parts of the city for years, in some cases, decades. So developers who want to bypass the rules have to seek special approvals from the City Council.

Why do Measure S supporters say it's needed?
They say the city council's practice of granting special approvals to developers leads to kickbacks and crazy-quilt development. They complain that big apartment buildings are going to areas that can't handle the extra traffic. New construction, they add, drives up rents, leading to gentrification.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is leading the Measure S charge - why?
The AIDS organization says development issues are in keeping with its social justice mission because many of its clients can no longer afford to live in Los Angeles. The foundation has found support from some neighborhood organizations, former Mayor Richard Riordan and former City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

Who opposes Measure S and why?
Mayor Garcetti and some other senior city officials have condemned Measure S. They say it will halt vitally-needed housing production in a city that, by some measures, is the least affordable in the country because of the wide gap between housing costs and incomes. Labor unions and the business community have also banded together to fight the moratorium, which they say would kill thousands of construction jobs and damage the economy.

How has the city responded to Measure S?
On Friday, the city council voted to increase developer fees so the city can pay for more staff to modernize its 35 community plans every six years. Some plans haven't been touched for more than 15 years. A spokeswoman for the Measure S campaign said the plans should be updated at least every five years.

What else does Measure S do besides impose a moratorium?
It would permanently ban major land use changes on parcels less than 15 acres in size, and bar developers from performing their own environmental impact reports.