California’s political landscape is more nuts than usual this year, so the Coalition to Preserve L.A. has decided to switch gears and place the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on March 7, 2017, ballot. We believe our reform measure to fix L.A.’s broken, rigged and unfair planning system should not be overshadowed by the 2016 presidential election and numerous state ballot measures. And we want local politicians up for re-election to seriously discuss the problems of overdevelopment in L.A.

“Our initiative is too important to be buried at the tail-end of this November’s ballot,” Coalition to Preserve L.A. campaign director Jill Stewart explained at a press conference today on the steps of L.A. City Hall in downtown, “which is beginning to look like it will be. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a watershed movement that deserves the undivided attention of the city’s voters and its media.”

Along with the March 2017 vote for L.A. mayor, city controller, city attorney and eight City Council seats, citizens will also decide if they want to fix L.A.’s broken, rigged planning system with the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

“A March 7 election is a perfect fit for our measure,” says Stewart. “We want it to be a serious referendum on Los Angeles’ future.”

Numerous neighborhood activists, including Alice Callaghan from Skid Row, George Abrahams from Hollywood and Marisa Stewart from Palms, joined Jill Stewart at the press conference.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative levels the playing field for residents by giving them a greater opportunity to shape their communities. Right now, deep-pocketed developers overwhelmingly control the city’s planning system, manipulating it for their own self-interests while screwing over the rest of us and creating gridlocked traffic, ruined neighborhoods and displaced residents who are the victims of gentrification.

L.A.’s politicians, who have received a minimum of $6 million in campaign contributions from the real estate industry since 2000, work in tandem with developers.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative achieves the following:

  1. Creates a two-year time-out on City Council votes to approve of the biggest and most overwhelming development projects;
  2.  Requires the City Council to regularly review its General Plan – including the community plans – in a process that provides far more accessibility to the public;
  3. Permanently ends the City Council’s granting of General Plan amendments to special-interests;
  4. Permanently ends an environmental impact report (EIR) system in which developers judge the environmental impacts of their projects, including traffic increases, pollution loads and noise — a glaring conflict of interest.

Over the past few months, the Coalition to Preserve L.A. has reached out to numerous community groups and key neighborhood leaders. We’ve heard what they had to say, and decided to greatly simplify and shorten the measure from 23 pages to eight while keeping more than 90 percent of its original substance.

The shortened measure includes these changes:

  1. Exempts 100 percent affordable housing projects from the two-year moratorium, allowing these projects to proceed even if they need height district or zone changes;
  2. Requires City Hall to go to the people, holding its public reviews and updates of the General Plan and the 35 Community Plans, and the Harbor District Plan and Airport District Plan, solely at night and on weekends and within the effected communities;
  3. Removes several pages explaining L.A.’s existing parking rules and leaves in place only the paragraph that would be changed. That paragraph stops favored developers of small lot subdivisions, condo conversions and outsized projects from being able to vastly cut back their required parking.

“City Hall’s approval system for big development projects is hopelessly broken,” says Stewart. “The city’s Wild West approach is to ignore an area’s crumbling infrastructure, its gridlocked traffic or its special character to please profit-hungry developers. No modern city should be ‘planned’ this way. We intend to fix this.”

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