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It's Official: Affordable Housing Initiative Added to November Ballot

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This fall, voters will weigh in on the future of development in LA

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to place the Build Better LA Initiative on the November ballot.

If approved, the measure would require developers to include affordable housing units in large projects for which they seek special permission to skirt zoning codes or to build beyond density and height restrictions. It would also require that 30 percent of construction workers on these projects be hired locally, and that 10 percent be from areas where the median income is under $40,000. Or, developers could avoid the affordable housing rule altogether by electing to pay a fee instead.

Originally the measure was meant to serve as an alternative to the stringent anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. That proposed ballot measure seeks to prevent the city council from authorizing any changes to current zoning codes and would also place a two year moratorium on most large-scale construction projects in LA.

Seeking a less crowded ballot—and lower turnout—backers of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, however, have decided to wait until the March 2017 election. That means the Build Better LA Initiative will have the first shot at winning voter approval.

Because LA is stuck with planning guidelines that haven’t been updated in decades, the city council is regularly giving developers special permission to get their large projects off the ground. This has given rise to criticism that the city officials are playing favorites with developers and altering the character of the communities they serve.

Supporters of the affordable housing measure finished gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot in May.

In April, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to update the city’s 35 community plans over the next three years. Before that happens, though, voters will have the opportunity, and it's a big one, to weigh in on the future of development in the city.