The Real Deal Los Angeles

Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a threat to homeless housing plans, critics say

Ballot measure's opposition group held its first press conference Monday
October 11, 2016 09:45AM

Rachel Torres at the news conference Monday (Credit: Jon Endow)

Rachel Torres at the news conference Monday (Credit: Jon Endow)

And so it begins. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative’s opposition group — made up of developers, housing advocates, labor unions and L.A. neighborhood councils — launched their campaign Monday in a Lincoln Heights parking lot, one of 12 sites the city has proposed developing into housing for the homeless and affordable units.

The group, primarily funded by developer Crescent Heights and mall landlord Westfield, told a troop of cameras that the ballot initiative would thwart efforts to build the housing because 11 of those 12 sites would require zoning amendments, and if the so-called “anti-megadevelopment” measure passes, the projects would be subject to a two-year moratorium.

“The backers of this housing ban are trying to fool the public into thinking they are only going after a few quote-on-quote ‘mega-developments,’” Gary Toebben, president of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, said at the news conference. “Despite its so-called ‘affordable housing exemption,’ this moratorium would make it impossible to build 100 percent affordable housing on 11 out of 12 city opportunity sites.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council issued a call for proposals this summer for developers to convert the 12 city-owned sites in question into housing for homeless and low-income residents. In addition to the Lincoln Heights parking lot, the sites also include five vacant fire stations in Westchester and San Pedro and a former animal shelter on the Westside. So far, officials have received 73 proposals, Miguel Santana, an L.A. city administrative officer, told the L.A. Times.

Local labor unions have also joined the opposition efforts.

“Unite HERE doesn’t often see eye to eye with the Chamber of Commerce,” said Rachel Torres, an analyst at Unite HERE Local 11, a hotel workers union. “But we agree that our city needs to unite to defeat this housing ban. This is anti-worker, anti-renter policy. We need development reform that drives down rents and helps end homelessness.”

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will appear on the March ballot. Its campaign manager, Jill Stewart, told the Times the measure would still permit homeless housing in zones already designated as residential or commercial. [LABJ] [LAT]Cathaleen Chen