Funds are pouring in to support and oppose Measure S

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As the March elections approach, both the proponents and opponents of the controversial Measure S ballot measure appear to be stepping up fundraising efforts dramatically. In just the first three weeks of January, the two campaigns combined to bring in nearly $500,000 in cash contributions.

A mandatory fundraising report filed with the city’s ethics commission shows that the Coalition to Preserve LA, which backs the measure, raised $300,952 between January 1 and January 21. By comparison, the campaign brought in $504,332 in the three months prior.

Of course, all but that last $952 came from a single donor: the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The nonprofit organization is both the originator and primary financial backer of the ballot measure, having contributed over $2 million to the campaign since the beginning of 2016.

Additionally, the foundation kicked in nearly $200,000 worth of non-monetary contributions in the early weeks of January—mostly in the form of billboard space.

The measure, which seeks to limit development by imposing a two-year moratorium on most major projects, has received public support from high-profile public figures like Kirsten Dunst, Joaquin Phoenix, and former mayor Richard Riordan. None but Riordan, however, have opened up their pocketbooks to help fund the initiative. (CPLA had previously maintained actors Garret Hedlund and Leonardo DiCaprio had endorsed the measure, but both later asked to be removed from the list of supporters.)

Meanwhile, a growing list of developers and real estate firms are contributing to the opposition campaign. Altogether, opponents brought in $190,910 in cash contributions during the first three weeks of the year. That’s notable because Miami-based developer Crescent Heights, which gave more than $1 million to fight the measure in 2016, did not contribute a dime in that period.

Instead, the largest donations came from Century City Realty, SunCal, and Kilroy Realty. Those three companies combined for $170,000 in contributions.

Like the Yes on S campaign, the opposition has relied on a small group of donors for most of its financial support, while drawing key endorsements from non-monetary supporters. Recently Mayor Eric Garcetti added his voice to a long list of other individuals and organizations that have spoken out against the initiative.

If approved by voters, the measure would place a two-year moratorium on most major projects and prevent city officials from deviating from current zoning rules in approving new developments. Garcetti argued that these restrictions would worsen LA’s housing shortage and make building affordable developments for the homeless excessively difficult.

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