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Q&A: 2 ballot proposals take on big LA developments

Artist rendering of the proposed $1 billion development around the Capitol Records building on Vine Street in Hollywood. Developer is Millennium Partners of New York.
Handel Architects
Two ballot measures aim to add restrictions to large developments in LA.

In Los Angeles, leaders say building taller and denser will help ease the city’s housing crunch. But some of the larger developments they’re approving aren’t going over well with everyone. Los Angeles voters could see two ballot measures this fall that would add development restrictions.

Here's what you need to know.

Tell me about the two ballot proposals.

The ballot initiative from the Coalition to Preserve LA aims to stop big projects with a two-year moratorium - meaning a ban on building housing complexes that exceed the current zoning codes. It also wants to make it harder for the City Council to exempt individual projects from the zoning rules. Spokeswoman Jill Stewart said runaway development is changing neighborhood character and creating traffic: "We end up with unbelievable backups near all these new developments that aren’t appropriate for the infrastructure of the land. They’re way out of size and proportion.”

The second proposal comes from a group of labor and housing advocates called Build Better LA. It would force developers to provide affordable housing on site or elsewhere in Los Angeles if their housing project is so big that it exceeds the zoning rules. It would also require that jobs go to locals and disadvantaged groups such as veterans.  According to spokeswoman Laura Raymond, "our initiative is about embracing the diversity of incomes and really making sure the city is planned and built for everyone in L.A."

How are the two ballot proposals different?

The Coalition to Preserve LA wants to stop large developments for two years, while Build Better LA does not. In fact, if developers follow the guidelines that group is proposing, there could be the construction of more housing.

Why now - and why two different ballot proposals?

Coalition to Preserve LA is spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which Stewart said advocates for community members. And those community members have been complaining about getting priced out by the new, upscale developments moving into their neighborhoods, Stewart said.

Members of Build Better LA are opposed to the initiative put forth by the Coalition to Preserve LA because they said it would stop large-scale residential development and only worsen the city's housing shortage. But they say their ballot proposal is not a response to that initiative. Rather, it's a "stand-alone policy" Raymond said, that's been years in the making.

How are their ballot campaigns going?

Each campaign is racing to gather more than 60,000 signatures by April to qualify for the November ballot. The Coalition to Preserve LA launched three months ago and Stewart said she's "confident" that they will have enough signatures. Build Better LA just submitted its ballot proposal to the City Clerk on Wednesday so it is only starting to gather signatures.