Backers of anti-development initiative give mayor 7 days to meet their demands

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Mayor Eric Garcetti met Wednesday with backers of the anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative after the group held a press conference at City Hall announcing they would be willing to hold off on pursuing their ballot measure if the mayor agrees to pursue a number of changes to the city’s planning rules.

The Coalition to Preserve LA (the organization sponsoring the initiative) says supporters have gotten more than enough signatures to qualify the measure for an appearance on the March ballot; they plan to submit the signatures August 24 if the mayor fails to comply with their requests.

They’ve also apparently recruited some impressive A-list talent. A news release on the coalition’s website notes that Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst, Chris Pine, Joaquin Phoenix, and others have all signed on to support the measure. Even former mayor Richard Riordan has joined.

An open letter to Garcetti, included in the news release, details the changes to planning policies the coalition has demanded. They include:

  • Fast-tracking a new general plan—a comprehensive, longterm planning guide that spells out land uses and zoning codes for every neighborhood—for the city. Garcetti himself proposed this back in April.
  • A rule preventing developers from choosing the consultants who evaluate the environmental impacts of their proposed projects,
  • A rule restricting private meetings between developers and elected officials
  • A rather vague suggestion that, “spot zoning exceptions to the General Plan … must become the rare exception to the rule, rather than routine, as it is today.” (Spot zoning is when the city approves a developer’s request to re-zone a single parcel or small area for a use totally different than the surrounding area.)

Garcetti might not be inclined to give in to this ultimatum (a spokesperson for the mayor tells the Los Angeles Timeshe’s still thinking about it), but the demands set forth by the coalition in the letter are certainly far less extreme than the initiative itself. If passed, the ballot measure would impose a two year moratorium on most major developments and prevent city officials from making general plan amendments for individual projects.

If Garcetti doesn’t act within the next week, the measure will appear on March ballots, when the mayor is up for reelection. Previously the initiative was planned for the November ballot, but the coalition changed course in spring, holding off on the measure until March, when lower voter turnout is expected. In the meantime, voters still have a chance to weigh in on the city’s development process this November, when the more development-friendly Build Better LA Initiative will appear on ballots.

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