LA activists looking to restrict development

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Los Angeles activists are pushing for a ballot measure that would put new restrictions on development. (KABC)

Major building projects approved by Los Angeles city leaders are under new attack.

Activists are renewing a drive for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. The ballot measure seeks a shakeup in how developments are approved.

"The City Council should not be making individual decisions behind closed doors as to what communities should become," said Jill Stewart, who heads the Coalition to Preserve L.A. "We are demanding in this ballot measure that they write community plans involving the community."

The development foes gathered near the proposed Blake Avenue Riverfront Project.

Activists say units costing $250,000 threaten to gentrify the Elysian Valley neighborhood also known as Frogtown. They claim that across the city, developers make campaign donations to council members who then approve the projects.

"Twenty-seven stories, kicking out rent-stabilized-ordinance units, demolishing more affordable housing causes more homelessness," says Grace Yoo with the Environmental Justice Collaborative.

Organizers say the latest version of the measure is easier to understand. Its first aim is a 2-year moratorium on projects that require special amendments.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell calls that a job killer.

"Several dozens of projects that are already approved that would employ tens of thousands of Angelenos would go on immediate hiatus for at least two years. So we're talking about a hit to the local economy," O'Farrell said.

O'Farrell said it was neighborhood input at the Riverfront site which reduced the height of the buildings, the scale of the project, and will provide affordable housing. He said there are multiple ways neighborhood comments guide a project.

"You don't take a sledgehammer to something that needs a scalpel," O'Farrell said.

The petition drive began Wednesday. Backers hope to have it on the March 2017 ballot.
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