Measure S is a Five-Alarm Fire

Hundreds of Angelenos kick off Get-Out-The-Vote weekend before Election Day with press conference and rally against deceptive, harmful housing ban

LOS ANGELES -- Against the backdrop of a fire truck with sirens blaring and red lights blazing, a cheering crowd of community leaders, veterans, renters, affordable housing and homeless advocates, firefighters, union workers, environmental advocates, and urbanists rallied today to kick off the final weekend of Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) efforts to defeat Measure S.

Often described as the most diverse coalition in L.A. history, the group of unlikely partners came together outside the headquarters of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, Local #112 near downtown. They are united to defeat the deceptive and harmful housing ban, which would destroy jobs, rob millions from the economy, raise rents and increase homelessness.

"If you ban construction in Los Angeles, schools and parks will get less money and public safety will be crippled. All told, Measure S will cost the City of Los Angeles $70 million in public funds for each year that the ban is in effect. That’s enough money to pay for approximately 1,000 firefighters or police officers," said Tony Gamboa, President of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City.

“Los Angeles just invested over a billion dollars in ending homelessness, but Measure S blocks the veterans’ housing we need,” said Mike Kufchak, Former Sergeant Major of the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton and Director of Veterans Affairs for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11. “It also erases tens of thousands good paying jobs in construction — the kinds of jobs that have helped many of my brothers and sisters and definitely me find a place at home after our service. Coming home isn’t easy for veterans. Measure S doesn’t just make it harder for us to come home—it will keep thousands of homes from even being built."

"The November elections showed us a city — by landslide margins — that wants to address homelessness (HHH), build out a transit system (M), and put jobs and housing near transit (JJJ). Measure S does the opposite. The broadest coalition in LA history has come together to oppose it. We are workers, affordable housing advocates, social justice groups, environmentalists, scholars and researchers, neighborhood council members, and renters," said Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and convener of the Build Better LA Coalition.

"I started my trade as a single parent, living in my parents’ house, barely making ends meet. Five years later, I’m out on my own, putting food on the table, giving my daughter a good life and contributing to the economy--and that's all because of good-paying, blue-collar work here in Los Angeles," said Aaron Marlowe, Fifth Year Apprentice, United Association Local Union 250 Steamfitters. "Measure S would put thousands of my brothers and sisters in the trades out of work every single year. Measure S would stunt the growth in our community. Don't let Measure S stop us. Please vote No." Economists estimate that Measure S would cost Los Angeles 12,000 jobs annually, including 7,000 in construction.

“Access to affordable housing is a right for all. Measure S will block that and is a great danger to our community,” said Blanca Mendez, a resident of Casa Yonde affordable housing in Koreatown. “We have to make a decision this Tuesday that will affect the future of Los Angeles. Are we going to support the rich in Hollywood, fighting over their views? Or are we going to support the rights of renters, and aid their fight and their search for affordable housing? The answer is very clear to me. I am going to fight Measure S so that families like mine can have access to safe and affordable housing.”

"Nobody should be living on the street. Homelessness shouldn't exist. It Measure S passes, it will contradict all the work we've done to end it, and all the people who voted for Prop HHH in November. The steps we've taken to eradicate homelessness will be in vain," said Silvia Hernandez, an affordable housing resident and community advocate for affordable housing and services for individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has a housing crisis. We have shrunk our supply of housing, but people have continued to be born here and they have continued to come here. We currently live in the least affordable housing market in the country. So why would we vote to ban new housing?

The November elections showed us a city — by landslide margins — that wants to address homelessness (HHH) and build out a transit system (M), and put jobs and housing near transit. Measure S does the opposite. The broadest coalition in LA history has come together to oppose it. We are social justice groups, environmentalists, scholars and researchers, neighborhood council members, workers and renters.

This broad coalition is kicking off a GOTV weekend and final push to connect with voters about why Measure S would be a disaster for L.A. and make our housing crisis even worse.

Measure S’s backers say it encourages affordable housing, but its so-called “affordable housing exemption” bans 95% of the affordable housing it touches, 33% of the current pipeline, and 90% of city-owned opportunity sites.

They say it will stop evictions, but it will accelerate evictions by blocking development on parking lots and other land that isn’t currently zoned for housing.

They say it ends backroom deals, but it is silent on campaign finance regulation and does not fund enforcement.

They say it stops luxury housing and “mega” developments, but it is silent on density and price and will encourage luxury developers to turn rent-stabilized apartments into condominiums.

They say it encourages updating the community plans, but the Mayor and the Council have already allocated funds and set a timeline to update the community plans. Meanwhile, the $70 million hit to public funds that Measure S would cause is equivalent to DOUBLE the salaries of the entire Planning Department.

They say it will decrease traffic, but it will increase sprawl by taking away our ability to locate housing and jobs near transit, and locking us into outdated suburban-style plans.

They say it will preserve our neighborhoods, but it will congest our neighborhoods. It will threaten under-built single-family neighborhoods such as Palms, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz Village, and NoHo, because it will limit developers to build only in locations currently zoned residential to build.

In short, it’s a five-alarm fire for Los Angeles and will make our housing crisis even worse.