Quarterly finance reports released last week reveal that the Coalition to Preserve LA—the organization behind the controversial Measure S ballot initiative—brought in an impressive $504,332 since the beginning of October. In the past calendar year, the organization, which is seeking to put strict limits on new development, has raised more than $1.7 million and currently has nearly $245,000 of cash on hand.
Still, the vast majority of those finances continue to come from a single source: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The nonprofit healthcare provider is the primary sponsor of the ballot measure (as well as its author), and this past quarter contributed just over 99 percent of all money raised in support of the initiative—in spite of dozens of small contributions from individual donors.
If approved by voters in March, the measure would put a two year moratorium on most major developments and prevent city officials from deviating from neighborhood zoning rules that were often established decades ago.
Critics say the measure would worsen LA’s housing shortage, and that its proposals aren’t related to the foundation’s mission. AHF President Michael Weinstein has argued that “[h]omelessness is a public health issue,” and that new development contributes to the displacement of the city’s low-income residents and rising levels of homelessness—a position disputed by the many homeless service providers that have vocally opposed the measure.
Opponents of the initiative managed to bring in even more money than CPLA this past quarter, raising a total of $610,340 in cash contributions. Once again, though, the vast majority of those funds came from a single source.
A total of $500,000 in donations poured in from a subsidiary of Miami-based developer Crescent Heights. The firm plans to build a pair of 28-story towers behind the historic Hollywood Palladium—directly across the street from the AHF headquarters.
In a recent press release, the opposition campaign accused Weinstein of funding the ballot measure in order to preserve views of the Hollywood Sign that would be blocked by the new development. In April, AHF sued the city of Los Angeles over the project’s approval.
Casual observers could be forgiven for dismissing the battle over this ballot initiative as a war between neighbors, but it’s one that has very real implications for the city’s immediate future. Based on expenditure statements, voters can expect a flurry of leaflets and campaign ads related to the measure as the March elections approach.