Robin Hughes Joins Diverse Coalition in Opposition of Measure S

February 1, 2017 (Los Angeles, CA) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined a historically diverse coalition of residents, community leaders, affordable housing and social justice advocates, labor, business and environmental organizations to announce his opposition to Measure S, a damaging housing ban that would result in higher rents and loss of jobs.

The leaders gathered at Little Tokyo-based Casa Heiwa, affordable housing for seniors that could only be built using a General Plan Amendment. If Measure S passes, building a project like Casa Heiwa (Heiwa translates to “peace” or “harmony”) would be illegal—not just for Measure S’s two year moratorium, but because of its permanent “silent moratorium” outlined in Section 5, for as long as it takes to update community plans to allow such projects.

“Los Angeles is a city that welcomes everyone, and we never want to turn our backs on our residents–but that’s what Measure S would do,” said Garcetti. “Measure S will raise rents and will stymie our work to house the homeless. We can, and we will, build a welcoming city where children can grow up and afford to live in their hometown, and their parents can be secure about providing a home for their families. Let’s say no to Measure S and then let’s get to work together.”

“The people who put together Measure S thought that neighborhood council members would love it, but they made a mistake—because a lot of us see right through it,” said Jackelyn Valladares of Echo Park Neighborhood Council. “My family had to move from our home in Echo Park because someone bought it and raised the rent to four times what we were paying. Measure S wouldn’t protect families like mine—by banning new housing, it would mean displacement for more families like mine.”

“I’ll say this about Measure S: It has brought together the biggest & broadest coalition in Los Angeles history to stop it,” said Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Its silent moratorium would turn our best prospects for affordable housing into ‘scorched-earth’ sites where nothing could be built. Los Angeles has a housing crisis, and we need to build more housing at every level. A housing ban would be a catastrophe.”

Against the backdrop of a new federal administration introducing fear and uncertainty about our region’s future, Measure S would risk throwing L.A. into a recession by robbing the city of nearly $2 billion per year in lost economic activity and more than $70 million from the City of Los Angeles budget annually, according to an economic impact report produced by Beacon Economics, the consulting firm founded by economist Christopher Thornberg, formerly of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“The backers of Measure S show up across the city where people are having a hard time, like where seniors were evicted in Westwood—but by limiting new housing construction, their measure would make that worse. And it will eliminate 24,000 jobs in two years, many of them good-paying jobs in construction, a pathway to the middle class,” said Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “Last November, Los Angeles made it loud and clear with one voice that we want housing, we want good, local jobs, and we want transit.”

The so-called ‘affordable housing exemption’ in Measure S would not apply to the vast majority of sites chosen by the city to develop housing for the homeless—the first developments that could be funded and built with HHH funds. Because of the “silent moratorium” in Measure S that lasts beyond the two-year housing ban, construction on those sites could be prohibited for as long as ten years and potentially longer.

Measure S will:

  • cost our economy $3.8 billion, eliminate 24,000 jobs, and drain $140 million in public funds in just the first two years of its effects
  • increase pressure for mansionization and development in neighborhoods
  • Block new needed housing near transit lines and along commercial corridors.
    ban the building of 90% of planned opportunity sites for affordable and permanent supportive housing projects

Measure S will not:

  • regulate campaign finance
  • fund the updating of community plans
  • protect neighborhoods from maxed-out by-right construction

“Rents are rising in Los Angeles, and it’s inhumane to exacerbate this burden on renters who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Robin Hughes, CEO of Abode Communities, an affordable housing developer. “By banning critical planning tools, Measure S would be devastating for affordable housing developers. Across Los Angeles, hundreds of existing and planned apartments like the ones around us today could not be built because Measure S takes zoning changes and General Plan Amendments away—and in the case of General Plan Amendments, these developments couldn’t be built for years to come.”

The same day, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a motion to oppose Measure S. “Approaches to local development may be reasonably debated,” said Supervisor Kuehl, who was a co-author of the motion, “but Measure S is not reasonable. Los Angeles has a housing crisis, and passage of Measure S could result in higher rents, virtually halt the construction of affordable housing, and increase the number of men and women who are homeless. The measure could not be more poorly timed. The County is less than a full year into implementing its comprehensive initiative to end homelessness, and Measure S would significantly impede our progress.”