March 7 2017 Los Angeles Municipal Election Endorsements

Mayor: Eric Garcetti - ADA SoCal has supported Eric Garcetti since he was a city councilman.  He's been a decent mayor with great potential, if a bit cautious.  He moved slowly on increasing the minimum wage, has only tepidly moved away from petroleum, and has not shown any willingness to address the root causes of a violent and biased police culture.  We are hoping that in the current political climate, our mayor will rise to the challenge and become the progressive champion we desperately need. 

City Attorney: Mike Feuer - Mike Feuer is running unopposed for City Attorney, and that's a shame. While he has been a champion on environmental issues, he's displayed fierce opposition to protecting access to Medical Marijuana, instead continues to wage the failed Drug War. We hope that now that California has legalized Marijuana, Mike Feuer will mellow out on the issue. Mike Feuer has also been weak on protecting the civil liberties of  Black Lives Matter protesters, choosing to throw the book at them rather than drop the charges for non-violent protest.  In this era when more and more people will be taking to the streets to protest the depredations of the the Trump Administration and the Republicans, we are hoping that our City Attorney will be protecting our Civil Liberties and not curtailing them.

City Controller: Ron Galperin - While there is room for growth with Ron Galperin, we believe he will continue his great work if re-elected. In his first year as City Controller, Ron created Control Panel LA, a 21st century dashboard and hub making the City of LA's budget more accessible to the public. We recognize the work Ron Galperin has put into his first 4 year term in public office and look forward to seeing what he brings forth in his second term.

City Council District 1: Gil Cedillo - We're endorsing Gil Ceillo in District 1 against progressive challenger Joe Bray-Ali. Gil Cedillo's record on progressive issues has earned him our endorsement. We commend him for being being the strongest voice for the homeless on the City Council and for being one of a few elected officials in Southern California who actively worked on Bernie Sanders' Presidential campaign.

City Council District 3: Bob Blumenfield - Bob Blumenfield has run a responsive and active City Council office for constituents of the South West Valley. We hope that he will complete his term as City Council Member and use the full 5 and a half year term to develop connections to grass roots activists disappointed with bourgeoisie politics.

City Council District 5: Paul Koretz - As a constant progressive voice on a wide range of issues that face the City Council, we proudly endorse Paul Koretz for City Council District 5.

City Council District 7: No Endorsement - We spoke to many of the 20 candidates running and respect many of the progressive candidates running, however, we are unable to provide an endorsement for District 7 at this time.

City Council District 9: Adriana Cabrera - Adriana Cabrera is a young vibrant Latina finishing her Masters Degree from California State University Northridge and has a fresh progressive outlook that was developing before Bernie Sanders' campaign. Ms. Cabrera may not have the experience of cutting deals with developers and polluters for votes, but she has been working in the community, with students and with other residents in District 9 that have been marginalized by a political system that focuses on campaign contributions as opposed to the voice of the people.

City Council District 11: Mike Bonin - Although Mike Bonin's proposed legislation regulating vacation rentals would go way too far in restricting Los Angelenos from renting out rooms in their houses, which provides income that enables people to pay mortgages and expenses and puts money right back into the community, Mike Bonin has been very responsive to progressive causes and deserves re-election .

City Council District 13: No Endorsement - We recognize that there's a lot of discontent with incumbent Mitch O'Farrell regarding development and homelessness issues.  We are waiting until after the primary to see his opponent in the run-off is worthy of our support.  

City Council District 15: Caney Arnold - Caney is running a serious campaign connecting with a complicated and gerry-mandered district that reaches all the way to the port of Los Angeles.

A note regarding Caney Arnold's opponent in this race:

Incumbent Joe Buscaino recently stated in a radio interview that the police officers who murdered Ezel Ford acted "righteously" - we find this statement abhorrent and not progressive. While we appreciate Joe Busciano's willingness to complete our Endorsement questionnaire, we feel this statement is too big to ignore.

Los Angeles School Board:

District 2: Carl Peterson
District 4: Steve Zimmer
District 6: Imelda Padilla

The most important consideration on the Los Angeles Primary ballot this year isn't whether or not Developers need to abide by a neighborhood zoning plan, but whether or not our public schools should be governed by a school board bought and paid for by the Charter School Industry. Democrats were horrified when Donald Trump nominated Charter School and School Voucher activist Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. But corporatist Democrats have had a miserable record in protecting our public schools and our teachers unions from corporatized charter schools that siphon off our tax dollars for unregulated profit-driven education. Our former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made proliferation of Charter Schools a top priority. And President Obama's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in the bag for the Charter School Industry as well.

The Charter School Industry is spending huge amounts of money to make sure that the LA School Board answers to it. Monica Garcia, who is in their pay, is seeking re-election to District 2. Ex-Mayor Republican Richard Riordan has donated $1 million to defeat Steve Zimmer because Zimmer is a strong advocate for good public schools. The Charter School Industry has set up two $5 million Independent expenditure funds to oppose Teachers' Union-endorsed candidates Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla. If you can find time between now and election day, please volunteer some time to phone bank for these candidates. [http://utla.net/news/phone-bank-canvass-zimmer-padilla] Los Angeles already has more charter schools than any other city in the country. If we want to protect Public Education in LA, we need to act!

Community College Board of Trustees:

Seat No. 2: Steven Veres

Seat No. 4: Dallas Denise Fowler

Seat No. 6: Nancy Pearlman

 

County Measure H: Los Angeles County Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness: YES

City Proposition M: Cannabis Regulation After Citizen Input, Taxation and Enforcement: YES

City Initiative Ordinance N: Cannabis Activity Permits, Regulation and Taxation: NO

City Charter Amendment P: Maximum Term of Harbor Department Leases: NO

City Initiative Ordinance S: Building Moratorium; Restrictions on General Plan Amendments: YES

Americans for Democratic Action Southern California endorsed Measure S at our January Board Meeting and reconsidered our endorsement at our February meeting due to the contentious nature of the ordinance.

The actual substance of the ordinance is broken down into 6 major points.

"Shall an ordinance amending City laws related to the General Plan, including to: 1) impose a two-year moratorium on projects seeking General Plan amendments or zone or height-district changes resulting in more intense land use, an increase in density or height, or a loss of zoned open space, agricultural or industrial areas, with exceptions including for affordable housing projects and projects for which vested rights have accrued; 2) prohibit geographic amendments to the General Plan unless the affected area has significant social, economic or physical identity (defined as encompassing an entire community or district plan area, specific plan area, neighborhood council area or at least 15 acres); 3) require systematic, public review of the General Plan every five years; 4) prohibit project applicants from completing environmental impact reports for the City; 5) require the City make findings of General Plan consistency for planning amendments, project approvals and permit decisions; and 6) prohibit certain parking variances; be adopted?"

The first point is not a moratorium on building. That is a disingenuous and specious argument the opponents have made. It would impose a moratorium on General Plan amendments and zoning changes. All land in the City of Los Angeles is zoned for a particular use and density governed by the General Plan. In order to build something on a piece of land it isn't zoned for, the proposer of the project would need to get a General Plan amendment, which can be political. Currently, it is known that developers make campaign contributions to City Council Members and other elected officials to accomplish their desired projects, which sometimes includes General Plan amendments. Some land that would be good for affordable housing isn't zoned for that kind of density and could prove to be a short-term problem, however, we should be planning long-term.

The second point prevents geographic amendments to the General Plan with exceptions. This basically means that the General Plan can't be gerrymandered and changed piece meal without good reason.

The third point requires systematic, public review of the General Plan every five years. This is unequivocally a good thing. Many parts of the General Plan haven't been updated in decades. As a vibrant evolving city, Los Angeles needs to look at the whole in a thoughtful forward looking way. Some of the opponents of the initiative say this is impossible because of the lack of staff and resources. The point of an ordinance like this is that resources will be used to accomplish this if it is passed.

The fourth point prevents developers from choosing the company that does the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on their project. This is a potential conflict of interest where developers lean towards hiring a company that downplays the potential impacts of the project they are studying and reporting on. Having vetted objective organizations, as opposed to organizations who owe their employment to the developer, is a simple solution to an acknowledged problem. This part of S is a step towards keeping developers and greedy capitalists who don't respect the environment from getting away with unsustainable and environmentally harmful projects.

The fifth point just asks for consistency for planning amendments, project approvals, and permit decisions. Again, because currently we have a system that allows developers with money to get what they want where they want, the overall process is unfair and inconsistent.

And the sixth point prohibits certain parking variances.

The progressive opposition to S is worried that this would prevent us from building affordable housing. The details of which affordable housing projects would be stopped has not been presented to Americans for Democratic Action, Southern California. We have had discussions and know of some land owned by organizations like the Venice Housing Authority that would be impacted, but it takes time, years, to build significant housing. Putting a pause on haphazard gentrification is a good thing, which may have some unintended consequences and delay some projects for up to 2 years. We understand that even one night homeless can be devastating, but without hyperbole, we have a homeless crisis that the existing General Plan and elected officials have failed to address. Taking time to develop a comprehensive long-term solution is the smart thing to do.

Finally, the overarching and underlying politics of this is interesting. From the AIDS Foundation largely funding the initiative and Yes campaign to the bevy of establishment Democrat elected officials opposing the initiative, there are complicated alliances and motivations for taking different positions on S.

Americans for Democratic Action supports a Yes vote on Measure S on March 7th, 2017.

UPDATE:

On Air Talk (2/28, KPCC) Mayor Garcetti claimed that 11 out of 12 City planned housing developments for homeless people would be blocked by Measure S. We need to look into this further, but it seems that their are exceptions in point 1 "for affordable housing projects and projects for which vested rights have accrued" and depending on the location and size of those 11 projects, they might qualify for "amendments to the General Plan [if] the affected area has significant social, economic or physical identity defined as encompassing an entire community or district plan area, specific plan area, neighborhood council area or at least 15 acres)" as stated in point 2.
 
As this has been a major point of contention, it warrants further analysis, but even in the Mayor's statement he claimed that S would prevent those housing developments from ever being built. That seems incorrect. As the General Plan is updated, why couldn't those properties, if the projects are good, be zoned accordingly? Tax payers end up overpaying for public infrastructure projects because decisions are often rushed and short-sighted. More questions about these proposed City housing developments need to be aired in public.