Los Angeles' Contentious 'Neighborhood Integrity Initiative' Explained
Josh Stephens provides a thorough examination of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, the controversial Los Angeles ballot initiative scheduled for citywide vote in November 2016. According to Stephens, the initiative "would upend Los Angeles’ approach to both project approvals and long-range planning."
"Among other provisions, the initiative would effectively place a two-year moratorium on all development that does not conform to adopted plans. It calls for the city to update its Community Plans — of which there are 37 — and forbids the City Council from granting plan amendments, which supporters of the initiative derisively refer to as 'spot zoning,' to nonconforming projects," adds Stephens.
The article includes a lot more specifics about the specific measures proposed by the initiative, as well as sharing opinions and insight about the ballot initiative from civic leaders on both sides of the issue.
Included among the many interviews Stephens conducted for the article is leadership from the Coalition to Preserve L.A. (CPLA), the group behind the initiative. Here, Stephens sums up the agenda of the initiative:
CPLA hope for the initiative to bring predictability to the city’s development process and even help combat the city’s notorious shortage of affordable and workforce housing. They say that the current system invites developers to pressure the city to approve larger and more luxurious — and therefore more profitable — projects. If developers know that a parcel is zoned only for a certain type of property, developers will avoid the lengthy negotiation process in favor of simply adhering to statute. (The initiative would not affect ministerial approvals such as variances.)
Stephens casts a wide net in setting the stage for a political debate about planning that is perhaps without precedent in Los Angeles, and without peer around the country right now. This will be an issue to watch for planners all over the country next November, perhaps right behind the presidential election itself. Consider this a referendum on the traditional mechanisms of planning, as well as a battle for the future of the practice.