Biggest Measure S spenders, AHF and Crescent Heights, happen to be locked in legal battle

Palladium Residences (Crescent Heights)
Palladium Residences (Crescent Heights)

Voters will cast their ballots next week, deciding on the future of Measure S and ultimately, the future of development in Los Angeles.

But the two biggest spenders in the fight – the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and developer Crescent Heights – are also embroiled in a legal battle over Crescent’s planned Palladium Residences project next to AHF’s Sunset Boulevard headquarters.

Crescent Heights donated more than $2.5 million to the campaign against Measure S while AHF has funneled more than $5.5 million in support of the measure, the L.A. Times reported.

Measure S would impose a two-year moratorium on projects requiring zoning changes, banning amendments to the General Plan. Such amendments are currently used to allow individual projects in areas otherwise prohibited by the outdated code.

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Proponents of Measure S have painted Crescent’s 30-story residential project as a prime example of development that would spoil neighborhoods and accelerate gentrification. In fact, before Measure S even existed, AHF president Michael Weinstein was suing to block the development — a legal battle which inspired the drafting of the initiative.

AHF sued both Crescent and the city over the two-tower Sunset Boulevard project, arguing L.A. violated CEQA and other laws when it approved changes to the zoning code that allowed the project to move forward, according to the L.A. Times.

Opponents of the measure have criticized Weinstein for spending nonprofit funds to support Measure S. Weinstein counters that people with HIV and AIDS are among the victims of gentrification. Meanwhile, many affordable housing groups oppose Measure S, saying it will skyrocket rents while supply is constrained during a housing crisis.

AHF has provided most of the funding for the Yes on S campaign. More than $7 million has been spent by both sides, The Real Deal previously reported.

Several other real estate and union interests have donated to the “No” camp, including Westfield shopping center, Century City Realty, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and a company affiliated with former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. [LAT]Subrina Hudson