A coalition of housing developers and community organizations gathered at a Los Angeles parking lot to speak against the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Monday morning.
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, or NII, is a measure intended to preserve local Los Angeles communities and stop the development of detrimental construction projects. If the NII passes on the ballot in March, any development that requires a vote by the Los Angeles City Council will be prohibited for two years while the City Council outlines a general plan for future city development. Opponents to the NII say the initiative's restrictions will effectively end all construction in the city, resulting in job loss, housing shortages and economic downfall.
"We're here in this coalition to stop the housing ban, because the housing ban will set us back," said City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo. "Los Angeles needs 100,000 units of affordable housing, and the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would stop progress toward that."
Cedillo and other anti-NII coalition members who spoke Monday noted that 92 percent of the city's best affordable housing proposals would be blocked under the initiative's two-year moratorium. One such housing proposal was the very parking lot coalition members gathered at.
Virtually all construction in Los Angeles requires zoning and height change approvals, meaning the NII would halt not only expansive, high-rise construction, but also small-scale developmental improvements and housing construction. The housing shortages that would occur under the NII would lead to increases in rent prices, further homelessness and suburban immigration, according to anti-NII advocates.
Proponents of the NII say that the initiative would maintain community character and current housing. Los Angeles construction often replaces affordable housing with luxury apartments and displaces current residents as well as creating traffic and congestion, NII supporters assert. Those backing the initiative say the two-year moratorium would be in the best interest of the city while City Council constructs a comprehensive general plan, improving Los Angeles communities in the long-term.
But President and CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Gary Toebben, stressed that the NII's two-year developmental ban would leave thousands of construction workers without jobs.
"[The initiative] is not about mega developments, its about any housing or development project in our city," Toebben said.
Bryn Lindbland of Climate Resolve also opposed the NII, on the basis of its negative impact on the environment. "This initiative is bad for our whole region, and bad for our whole planet," Lindblad said. "There's an increase in green house gases if people move out of the city…this initiative locks in suburban scrawl and car dependence."
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative measure will be up for vote on March 2017 ballot.