Why did Measure S fizzle at the polls?

Los Angeles /
Mar.March 09, 2017 09:30 AM

Less than a third of Los Angeles voters cast their ballots in favor of Measure S in Tuesday’s election — a thunderous defeat for the little anti-development initiative that grew into a citywide movement.

The landslide defeat was largely unexpected, since the vote was projected to be a close one even in the days leading up to the election. “Yes on S” had dominated the billboards and ran an aggressive mailer campaign. So why exactly did Measure S flop?

Jill Stewart, director of the Measure S campaign, attributed the defeat in part to Gov. Jerry Brown’s statements against the initiative last month.

“We were neck and neck until Gov. Brown jumped in and thrashed us in ads,” she told Southern California Public Radio. “We just got slammed at the very end by last-minute, huge money and that is very hard to fight.”

The campaign also undermined its own messaging through misleading mailers, according to No on S consultant Bill Carrick.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department sent a “cease and desist” letter to backers of the measure over their use of deceptive “EVICTION NOTICE” campaign ads, which were circulated in late February.

Another mailer featured Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti with the words “I agree” next to his photo, despite the fact that the mayor was a vehement opponent of the measure.

Measure S also had its work cut out given the sprawling nature of the proposal, which called for a two-year moratorium on any development that required land use changes.

“So many people would be severely impacted that I think that’s what really did it in from day one,” pollster Adam Probolsky told KPCC. [SCPR]Cathaleen Chen


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