YES on Measure HHH: A Real Solution for L.A.’s Homelessness Problem
Measure HHH is simple, it authorizes up to $1.2 billion in bonds to build housing for L.A.’s homeless population. Studies have shown that providing permanent supportive housing is the most effective way to reduce homelessness, at a lower cost than other strategies, while also producing better health and wellness outcomes. With 47,000 homeless people in Los Angeles we need to take decisive action. Opponents raise concerns about the property tax the initiative will trigger (on average, less than $10 per $100,000 in home value per year), or fears that the new housing will be built in their neighborhoods, but these are petty concerns in comparison to the magnitude of the homeless epidemic in Los Angeles. Because HHH will trigger a property tax, it will require a two-thirds vote pass, which means this measure will need every vote it can get. We strongly urge a YES vote.
YES on Measure JJJ: A Reasonable Compromise to Provide More Affordable Housing
It’s no secret that housing in Los Angeles has become increasingly unaffordable, even while large new developments create additional supply. But many of these new developments are positioned at the top of the market, targeting higher income Angelenos, or foreign investors, and provide little relief to everyone else. In addition, due to a woefully outdated general plan, many developments in Los Angeles receive planning or zoning changes that allow developers to add more units, or avoid costly requirements. These changes essentially provide an instant increase in a developer's property value. While we are not opposed, in principle, to these kinds of zoning and planning changes, we also do not think it is unreasonable to ask that developers give something back to the city in exchange, which is essentially what Measure JJJ does. Under the measure, any project with 10 or more units that receives a planning or zoning change would be required to provide affordable units, and meet certain prevailing wage requirements for at least 30% of construction work hours. The number of affordable units required varies depending on the scale of the change, and the measure provides developers with flexibility to provide units at an offsite location, or pay into an affordable housing trust fund. Opponents suggest that such requirements could increase market rate costs or stifle housing construction, while incongruously advocating for city leaders to enact the same kinds of requirements. The L.A. Times suggests that voters hold out for two potential plans being studied at City Hall, but we have seen too often that City Hall’s “plans” fail to turn into action, and we are skeptical of Councilmembers’ ability to pass an affordable housing mandate over the opposition of influential developers in their districts. Los Angeles needs affordable housing requirements, and this is a plan that makes sense. Moreover, if the passage of Measure JJJ spurs the city to take action on updating the general plan to help avoid these types of zoning and planning changes, all the better. We recommend a YES vote.
NO on Measure RRR: A Public Utility Needs Public Oversight
Measure RRR would provide a welcome level of reform and professionalization to the board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), but as L.A. Weekly notes, it also removes much of the oversight power from the City Council and the Mayor. As a city-owned public utility, we depend on our elected officials for oversight of LADWP, and we are concerned that this measure allows them to sidestep that responsibility. We recommend a NO vote.
No recommendation on Measure SSS
Measure SSS seems like a reasonable proposal to bring L.A.’s Airport Police Department into the same pension plan as all the other police and fire departments in the city, but the union representing the Airport Police is not supporting this measure. We do not have a position on this issue.