March 9, 2017
By Dennis Kaiser
Connect Media polled CRE leaders in Los Angeles about what the defeat of the controversial Measure S ballot initiative means for developers in the city. The measure generated only 31% voter support in the 2017 LA primary election. Here are the insights of three, whose “what if” scenarios, we found interesting.
Century West Partners’ Steve Fifield (developer)
- Measure S takes away the oversight and input by educated and trained city planners, urban planners, city council members, local neighborhood groups and others who do a fine job of vetting new developments without the so-called cronyism S sponsors assert.
Castle & Nicholson’s David Waite (land use and environmental law expert)
- If the measure passed, the ability to develop both market rate and affordable housing projects would be severely limited. Large-scale residential and mixed-use projects located throughout the City of Los Angeles that require zone changes, height district changes or General Plan amendments would have been delayed or even halted entirely. Even small scale projects that need minor zoning amendments or additional floor area ratio (FAR) approvals will be affected.
- A greater degree of predictability and transparency in the land use approval process is good for the city, the development community, and our city’s neighborhoods and residents.
- It would be a mistake to say that we will return to “business as usual”, because there has been a clear recognition that some things need to change, and the city needs to commit the necessary resources to comprehensive planning that goes well beyond site-specific project approvals. We will always need a degree of flexibility to accommodate site- approvals, but over time, such approvals may become the exception rather than the norm.
MVE + Partners’ Dan Gura (attorney and urban planning expert)
- The impact of this [Measure S] could have been two-fold: first, it would have prohibited the creation of walkable communities because the city is currently zoned to have concentrated regions of housing separate from commercial, thus requiring Angelenos to drive everywhere; and second, the prevention of new housing would have driven the already-high rental rates in LA beyond what’s affordable to the majority of residents.
- This is a win for Los Angeles. And I believe the city can learn from this exercise – there is an opportunity to refresh the existing city plans to reflect the new urban lifestyle that has become so popular in Los Angeles. There is a growing trend and desire for walkable communities that can be fulfilled with less restrictions on development. We can also continue to leverage opportunities to turn old parking lots and abandoned buildings into much-needed housing, bring trees and pocket parks into the urban environment, and create more jobs in the city.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser