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The Real Deal Los Angeles

If City Council candidates are any indication, Measure S will be a close call

Of 26 candidates with a public stance on the issue, 12 will vote Yes and 14 will vote No
By Cathaleen Chen | March 03, 2017 01:30PM

Council member Mike Bonin, District 7 candidate Krystee Clark, and Council member Paul Koretz

If the public stances of L.A. City Council candidates are anything to go by, it looks like the Measure S vote will be a close one.

Of the 26 Angelenos running for City Council who have stated their positions on the controversial ballot measure, 12 are in favor and 14 against, according to a survey conducted by The Real Deal, in addition to research into the public stances of those who did not respond.

While no official polling on the measure exists, the near equal split in the opinions of would-be council members may serve as some indication of popular opinion. It’s also likely to be source of concern to real estate interests, who were initially skeptical of the measure’s chances, said Cary Jones, a real estate lawyer and partner at Snell & Wilmer.

“Everyone felt initially that it would go away, but it didn’t,” he told TRD. Now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Measure S won on March 7, he added, “because so many people have been sold on the notion of ‘controlled growth’ and ‘affordable housing.’”

While a number of politicians, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown, have come out swinging against Measure S, saying it would be catastrophic for affordable housing in L.A, council members defending their seats appear to be taking a more reserved approach in their rhetoric about the measure.

Of the seven incumbent council members, only three responded to TRD’s survey, and all were against the measure: Mike Bonin of District 11, Joe Buscaino of District 15, and Paul Koretz of District 5.

Curren Price of District 9, Mitch O’Farrell of District 13, Gil Cedillo of District 1 and Bob Blumenfield of District 3 were all named by the No campaign on its list of endorsements, though they either declined or did not respond to requests for comment.

“I think Measure S does a very good job diagnosing the problem of a broken planning system, but does a less than satisfactory job of treating the problem,” Bonin told TRD in a statement.

“I support parts of Measure S – requiring the City to update and adhere to its community plans, and preventing developers from picking the consultants who perform environmental analysis, but I do not support the moratorium the measure calls for,” he said. “In the middle of an affordable housing crisis, it would impede our ability to build housing.”

Koretz is equally tepid in his stance against Measure S.

“Measure S has some elements that I like, and some that I don’t,” he said over email. “[M]y greatest concern is the moratorium, which may halt much of the city’s plan to build housing for the homeless, affordable housing, and address our housing shortage in general.”

The measure’s supporters are seemingly more steadfast in their positions.

“I strongly support YES on Measure S,” said Krystee Clark, president of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and a candidate in District 7. “This is a chance to return the power back to the people. Affordable housing is no longer ‘affordable’ in Los Angeles.”

Those in support of Measure S largely reason that the status quo is broken, and that Measure S is the way to hit the reset button.

“The ‘No on S’ argument essentially boils down to somehow ‘S’ will make this worse. However, S marks the only time any significant effort has been made to correct it,” said District 13 candidate Bill Zide, former chair of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. “Worse yet, its argument is the city council and mayor (who benefit from the current system) will see fit to correct it.”

Eight districts have open seats on the council up for grabs next week, garnering a total of 43 candidates.

A source working for the “No on S” campaign told TRD that their internal polling shows a close call too, with neither side pulling significantly ahead.