Los Angeles voters delivered an overwhelming defeat to Measure S on March 7, an initiative that would have put a moratorium on the zoning changes necessary to build many large-scale, high-density developments in the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Supporters of the failed regulation needed a majority vote to succeed but garnered less than one-third.
Still, the Measure S campaign has seen some of its proposed provisions instituted, according to Curbed Los Angeles. Developers must now choose from a list of pre-approved vendors to assist them in writing their projects' environmental reviews, and the LA City Council voted to update community plans every six years.
Advocates of Measure S argued that the proliferation of upscale residential projects has displaced lower-income residents, but critics have consistently responded that building more residential units is the only way out of Los Angeles' housing crisis. Some supporters of the bill, also known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, were also concerned about the traffic, air pollution and strain on infrastructure high-density projects could cause.
Developer SunCal, a financial backer of the fight against Measure S, happens to be spearheading one of those projects, 6AM, which would see a 58-story skyscraper take the place of two warehouses on a 14.5-acre site in the city's Arts District. The development features a variety of resident amenities like parks, art space, retail, office and a school, but at the heart of the opposition are the 1,700 residential units that make it high-density.
Not everyone thought the defeat of Measure S was going to be such a slam dunk, however. There was a rush on the city's development and permitting offices in the run-up to the vote as owners tried to get high-density projects like SunCal's underway in case the initiative passed. At the very least, those departments should see a little post-vote relief.
Although the fight over Measure S is in the rearview mirror, activists on both sides expect the project-by-project battles to continue. For example, the main financial backer of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, previously filed a lawsuit to prevent the construction of two, 28-story residential high-rises from being built next to its Los Angeles headquarters.
The AHF donated 98% of the more than $4 million in advocacy funds for the Measure S effort. AHF CEO Michael Weinstein maintained during the campaign that nonprofits should have a voice in development issues as they relate to affordable housing and homelessness.