The Real Deal Los Angeles

Mayor Garcetti gives in to demands of Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (kind of)

LA mayor plans to ban private meetings between planning commissioners and developers

September 08, 2016 03:45PM

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Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember David Ryu sit next to each other at a concert (Credit: Ryu's Facebook page)

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember David Ryu sit next to each other at a concert (Credit: Ryu’s Facebook page)

In an effort to negotiate with supporters of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he wants to ban ex-parte communications between developers and city planning commissioners.

His executive directive would “ensure that all dialogue with private stakeholders is on the record,” Garcetti wrote in a letter this week. He is seconded by Councilmember David Ryu in a similar proposal.

Critics have long lamented the closed-door meetings between the commissioners, who are appointed by Garcetti, and the stakeholders of big real estate projects, arguing that the private sessions give an unfair advantage to development interests.

Last month, backers of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a ballot initiative that would place a two-year moratorium on all real estate development that requires zone changes, told the mayor that they would halt their campaign if he agreed to the ban, among other conditions. But they’ve since submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot next March.

Mayor Garcetti is clearly trying to  compromise with the NII. He wrote in a letter to the campaign’s major funder, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, that the private meetings ban and other changes would accomplish their shared goals, and asked him to drop “a costly and potentially divisive ballot measure campaign.” However, he is not caving to all of the NII’s requests. The initiative wanted Garcetti to ban private meetings between developers and all city officials, not just planning commissioners.

The NII’s director Jill Stewart told the L.A. Times her group welcomes the proposal from Garcetti but did not say that they will back down.

“I think it’s more likely that the mayor would endorse us than we would withdraw the measure,” Stewart said.

The California Assembly defeated a bill seeking to ban ex-parte meetings for the state’s Coastal Commission just last week. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen