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Opponents of anti-development measure won’t claim alarming economic report was ‘independent’

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Measure S supporters filed a lawsuit over the ballot measure’s language

The future of large scale development in LA could be decided at the March 7 election
Thomas Roberts_TRStudios / Curbed LA Flickr pool

The fight over Measure S—a ballot measure that would curtail development in Los Angeles—continues to heat up. Just two months before the March 7 election, supporters and opponents clashed in court over language in the voter guide soon to be mailed to hundreds of thousands of registered voters.

The two camps reached an agreement Wednesday, settling a lawsuit filed in December by supporters of Measure S, formerly known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. Supporters claimed arguments prepared by opponents were exaggerated and misleading.

Under the agreement, the measure’s opponents will soften their claims about a report analyzing the measure’s impact on the local economy.

The voter guide will not refer to that economic analysis as “independent,” as the measure’s opponents had proposed. The study was prepared by consulting firm Beacon Economics and financed by two developers who oppose Measure S. In an introduction to the Beacon report, United Way of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Elise Buik wrote: “Measure S would risk a return to recession.”

Jill Stewart, campaign director for Measure S, told the Los Angeles Times the Beacon study “was bought and paid for — and so was the economist.”

The voter guide would have also stated that measure’s two year moratorium on development would kill “as many as 120,00 jobs, costing workers $6.4 billion in lost wages.” Now, it will say it would “destroy 24,000 jobs, costing workers $1.28 billion in lost wages.”

The anti-Measure S camp is calling the changes a victory, saying that in agreeing to the new wording, proponents are, “in effect ... saying, ‘We recognize that this will cost 24,000 jobs … and we don’t care,’” Josh Kamensky of the Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs told the Times.

It might seem like an insignificant, nitpicky battle over words. But the voter guides will be mailed to every registered voter in the city of Los Angeles, a number that, as of September, totaled nearly 1.95 million.

And, Measure S has big implications for LA.

If passed by voters, it would, for two years, prevent city leaders from giving developers permission to construct new buildings that are taller or denser than what zoning codes allow.