Residents of Elysian Valley in Los Angeles are campaigning against developers who they say are changing the landscape of the community.
Elysian Valley, also known as “frogtown,” is a neighborhood of over 7,700 residents in Central Los Angeles. With the announcement of the $1 billion restoration project for the Los Angeles River, many residents felt the pressure of new investment and development in the community, causing them to organize for lower density.
Activists are renewing the drive for neighborhood preservation with the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a ballot measure that fights overdevelopment and it’s dramatic negative effects. The citizen initiative, sponsored by the Coalition to Preserve LA, gives Los Angeles residents more say in deciding the future of their communities and the city.
Supporters want to crack down on real estate “mega developments” by putting limits on changes to city planning rules that can be granted for such projects. The proposed ballot measure would establish a moratorium of up to two years for any development project that requires a City Council vote to increase the number of housing units allowed on a particular site. The proposal would also make it more difficult to amend the city’s general plan, which spells out the city’s policies on growth and land use.
Jill Stewart, head of the Coalition to Preserve LA, said, “The City Council should not be making individual decisions behind closed doors as to what communities should become. We are demanding in this ballot measure that they write community plans involving the community.”
Activists say units costing $250,000 threaten to gentrify the Elysian Valley Neighborhood and are displacing local long-term residents. Residents of Elysian valley, where many households earn well below $40,000, want “true revitalization” of the LA River area.
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which needs more than 60,000 signatures to make the March 2017 city ballot, is strenuously opposed by developers and City Hall politicians. The mayor and City Council have accepted well over $6 million from developers since 2000.
City Councilman, Mitch O’Farrell, calls the initiative a job killer. “Several dozens of projects that are already approved that would employ tens of thousands of Angelenos would go on immediate hiatus for at least two years,” O’Farrell said, “So we’re talking about a hit to the local economy.”
The core of the citizen initiative places Los Angeles residents ahead of developers in deciding what their communities should become.