Last week, supporters of the anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative handed Mayor Eric Garcetti a list of demands and announced the support of such prominent celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirsten Dunst. Backers of the ballot measure have a good deal of cash on hand to complement that A-list talent.
A campaign finance disclosure form filed with the City Ethics Commission this month shows the Coalition to Preserve LA, the group behind the initiative, raised more than $750,000 from April 1 to June 30. That brings the organization’s year-to-date contributions to nearly $1.06 million. Not too shabby. Of that, more than $1.02 million came from one donor, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
If passed, the initiative would put a two year moratorium on most major development projects and force the city to strictly adhere to current zoning laws until a new general plan is adopted. Critics say that would only aggravate the city’s severe shortage of affordable housing.
A backer of the initiative from the get-go, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is also embroiled in a lawsuit against the city over the approval of two residential towers set to rise next to its headquarters. The disclosure form shows the organization kicked in $600,000 in the three-month period, including a $300,000 gift on the final day of the quarter. The foundation also contributed more than $100,000 in non-monetary contributions (most of that coming from advertising and promotional work paid for by AHF).
According to the coalition’s website, the foundation is not contributing any funds earmarked for AIDS patients on the ballot measure’s campaign. A statement on the homepage says, "AHF raises its own advocacy funds to tackle social justice and fairness issues, which are in harmony with its mission."
How exactly the initiative fits in with the foundation’s mission to provide, "cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay" is a matter of debate, but according to the coalition, the influence of developers on members of the city council has, "destroyed neighborhood character, created outrageous traffic congestion, wiped out thousands of net units of affordable housing and directly fed into L.A.'s spike in homelessness." All of this is ostensibly what’s led AHF to get involved.
Aside from the foundation, 35 individuals made contributions to the coalition this reporting period. The second-largest donation was from none other than former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, who contributed $20,000 in June. Most other donors made much smaller gifts—almost all under $1,000.
The coalition spent a bit more than $480,000 this past quarter, leaving the organization with about $357,000 of cash on hand, the report shows. Supporters of the initiative announced at last week’s press conference that they have gathered enough signatures to submit the measure to voters on the March ballot.