Yes on S "Report" Hides More Than It Shows

Weinstein’s political $$$ and meetings with community groups left out, making report meaningless

A report issued by Yes on Measure S restates the same misleading arguments that have characterized the campaign for well over a year, leaves out critical information including Michael Weinstein’s own political donations, and deflects attention from Measure S’s complete silence on campaign finance reform.

The truth is that Measure S’s ultimate vision is to take away Los Angeles’ ability to provide the housing it needs. It includes no reforms or limits on who can give or accept money, or how much money they can give or accept.

The Yes on S pattern of deception can be easily understood by reviewing its account of the Palladium Residences development—the development that, by interfering with Michael Weinstein’s view from his Hollywood office tower, set this whole unnecessary saga in motion.

Yes on S alleges that, following a campaign donation of $700 from a partner in Palladium Residences developer Crescent Heights, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell met with the developer and approved its zoning changes.

Here are some of the facts left out of the account:

  • In that same election cycle, Michael Weinstein himself, the funder of 99% of Yes on S’s campaign, donated $950 to O’Farrell

  • Michael Weinstein also met with O’Farrell to discuss the Palladium Residences project, as did multiple neighbors. Records show that Weinstein and O’Farrell met three times between 2012 and 2015, and O’Farrell officiated Weinstein’s wedding.

  • Between 2013 and 2016, representatives from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s office attended approximately a dozen meetings with the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council and the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, amongst others, at which the Palladium Residences was a topic of discussion.

  • The Palladium Residences project would have been entirely consistent with the community plan for Hollywood, needing no zoning changes or General Plan Amendments—until a Weinstein-backed lawsuit forced the process, already delayed for more than two decades, to start over

  • The Palladium Residences project is entirely consistent with the draft Hollywood Community Plan hosted on the Planning Department’s website

  • O’Farrell’s campaign war chest totaled over $487,000 -- making Crescent Heights’s donation less than a fifth of a percent of the total.

Elected officials meet with multiple stakeholders about planning and land use issues. It’s part of the job—just like using planning tools to shape the city to meet changing needs is part of the job.

Measure S takes those tools away in the middle of a housing crisis—and institutes no campaign finance reforms.

That’s typical for Measure S, which does nothing that its backers claim, and worsens most of the problems it addresses:

  • They say it stops “megadevelopments”, but Measure S is silent on size—it would have stopped 24 units of senior housing in Boyle Heights, 32 units of affordable housing in El Sereno, and 41 units of senior housing in Panorama City.

  • They say it stops luxury housing, but it is silent on price. Instead, it will drive luxury developers to raze or empty rent-stabilized properties once they can only build where housing is permitted.

  • They say it encourages affordable housing, but its so-called “affordable housing exemption” bans 95% of the affordable housing it touches and 90% of city-owned affordable housing opportunity sites, and wipes out 33% of the current affordable housing pipeline.

  • 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 stop evictions, but it will accelerate evictions. General Plan Amendments allow you to put housing on parking lots. Measure S forces developers to go looking for places where the plans allow housing – including existing rent-stabilized apartments.

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

  • They say it will reform planning and development, but every time city officials put planning reforms on the table, Measure S walked away – because they really want a housing ban.

  • They say it will preserve our neighborhoods, but it will congest our neighborhoods. We’ll lose under-built single-family neighborhoods in Palms, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz Village, NoHo. Because developers will go where they can build.

  • They say it will only affect 5% of developments—which is only true if you count both a single-family home and a 500-unit apartment building as one development.

  • They say it’s “just a two-year time out” — but their permanent ban on General Plan Amendments of less than 15 acres would mean that the affordable housing opportunity sites would be scorched earth—banned from any kind of housing construction—for years into the future.

Beacon Economics found that Measure S would cost Los Angeles $3.8 billion in lost economic activity, eliminate 24,000 jobs, and take $140 million in public budget in its first two years alone. No wonder they need lies to sell a law like that.