Report: Ballot Measure Intended to Spur Affordable Development Had the Opposite Effect in L.A.

L.A. voters approved Measure JJJ in 2016 in the hopes of encouraging more affordable housing as a trade-off for discretionary approval. The result has been no development at all.

1 minute read

May 27, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

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"Housing production in Los Angeles has slowed in the two years since Measure JJJ took effect, reports Steven Sharp, sharing research from the University of California Berkeley's College of Environmental Design and Los Angeles-based thinktank LAplus.  

"The ballot measure, which was approved by 65 percent of voters in the November 2016 election, requires that all Los Angeles developments seeking zone changes or general plan amendments employ prevailing wage labor and set aside a percentage of residential units for lower-income households," according to Sharp's explanation.

While 19,000 such projects were proposed from 2016 to 2017, they've since "ground to a halt."

Sharp explains why: "Few projects have filed for entitlements under the Measure JJJ rules, and only one project has been approved to date.  Citing interviews with several developers, the report points to Measure JJJ's prevailing wage requirement as the primary impediment to the use of zone changes and general plan amendments."

Some of that lost production has been offset by the city's Transit Oriented Communities guidelines, which were also enacted by Measure JJJ and have shown positive early returns. According to the report, however, development in the city overall has declined by 11.3 percent since Measure JJJ took effect.

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