Viewpoints & Ideas: Measure S Protects Affordable Housing for Eastsiders

Viewpoints & Ideas is where Eastsider readers can express their opinions, start a conversation and share ideas on neighborhood  issues,  problems and potential. The Eastsider published an opinion piece against Measure S earlier this week.


The election on March 7 is about bringing the power back to the people. We have seen a steady and constant dwindling of the power slipping out of the hands of the people into the hands of developers, lobbyists and the monied elite in the City of Los Angeles. Measure S returns power back to residents.

This cabal of developers has time and again persuaded our city leaders to give them free rein over where and what they can build, turning a deaf ear to what residents of neighborhoods across the city want.

Measure S will help save our neighborhoods by forcing City Hall to update the General Plan and our Community plans, and creating more transparency in the process of approving developments. This includes requiring all environmental impact reports be done by independent reviewers, not by the developers themselves.

My 35-year career as a housing attorney has been devoted to eliminating poverty in low-income communities.

As a child of an immigrant mother from Mexico, I understand the plight of low-income individuals seeking affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and environmentally healthy conditions. I understand the struggle of people fighting for housing justice and against condominium conversion or abuse of the Ellis Act.

Our communities in the Northeast and Eastside of the City have been especially adversely hit by gentrification of neighborhoods, and the loss of affordable housing because of development that doesn’t suit the needs of long-term residents.

It is unconscionable that the City allows developers to come into our neighborhoods and force people out of their rent-stabilized homes promising that they are going to build “affordable” housing. It is unconscionable that city officials are oblivious to the impact that large developments have in driving rental rates up in the surrounding neighborhoods leading to harassment of long-term tenants and eventual displacement.

The cost of a Rent Stabilized Occupancy is around $400,000. To tear these down with the promise of putting up affordable housing is just not feasible. The city cannot figure out how to make it economically viable to keep the rents at the same rate that the original RSO costs. The proposals just don’t make sense. People are being pushed out by gentrification — density does not equate with affordability.

In fact, in the last year, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases that go to trial.In 2014 and 2015, 1 percent of the Eviction Defense Network’s caseload went to trial; 82% of our current caseload is going to trial because even short-term rent controlled tenants are in substantially below market rate units and because tenants realize that displacement from their units means displacement not just from the City but from the County of Los Angeles.

The LA City Council and mayor have time and again proven that they are unable to reconcile development without the displacement of hundreds of individuals. Mass eviction and harassment by owners and landlords under the current conditions of outdated General Plan and Community Plans has left our community out of the planning process.

Measure S will rein in unbridled greed, start the process of fixing our broken and rigged planning system, and hold our elected officials at City Hall accountable.

60-70K evictions are filed in Los Angeles every year. Every day my staff and I struggle to stop displacement. Measure S is essential to our efforts to maintain the racial and social and economic diversity of our amazing city.

Elena Popp, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Network, is a resident of Lincoln Heights and a supporter and volunteer of Measure S

Related Links:

  • The Eastsider welcomes reader contributions on timely topics and issues for Viewpoints & Ideas. Submissions must be no more than 500 words and written exclusively for The Eastsider. Please contact us for details.
The Eastsider’s Daily email digest includes all new content published on The Eastsider during the last 24 hours. Expect the digest to land in your in email in box around 7 p.m. It’s free to sign up!

Once you submit your information, please check your email box to confirm your subscription.


  1. You should be ashamed of yourself for arguing for this nonsense. Vote NO

    • Hi. There are links to an anti-Measure S opinion piece at the top and bottom of this column.

    • Very wrong. It is shocking the extreme lying going on about this measure. In fact, it does NOTHING to block housing being built, it does NOTHING to stop the building of housing for the homeless, it does nothing to stop the building of affordable housing. It merely has a temporary moratorium on construction that is bigger than allowed under the zoning and city plan for that location — that’s all. You can build, build, build in accordance with the zoning and city plan for that location, this does nothing to interfere with that.’

      Our fraud of a mayor has been leading the charge of very serious lies about this measure. Lies in politics are so commonplace that it is amazing how Garcetti has managed to take it to such new heights as to shock the conscience.

      If Garcetti can’t find any way to build hosing without making it far and away too big, can’t do it within the zoning and city plan, then Garcetti should be run form office immediately — to simply build to the existing zoning could bring probably 10 times as much housing in this city as now exists, as many neighborhoods are zoned for much more than is the least bit reasonable for them to handle on very narrow streets! But Garcetti wants even more than that, a LOT more.

      We do not need 27 story buildings in residential neighborhoods zoned for a maximum of 6 stories, and where the existing buildings are mostly two and three stories, but a few are six stories. That is exactly what Garcetti, Wesson, and the other city officials are forcing through in Koreatown — on a small residential street, not on Wilshire Blvd. That is what this is stopping, but this measure does nothing to stop building within the zoning and plan.

      • BTW, take note of how so many of the NO comments in here are written in the exact same writing style, the exact same forcefulness. As a professional copy editor, I smell fraud. Sounds to me like one person flooding this thread.

        • I too am a professional copy editor – I’m smelling that you are wrong. The No comments are written by many, different well meaning people.

  2. “Measure S will rein in unbridled greed” – Lol, how about startling with the author of Measure S, Michael Weinstein,who is using millions of dollars in AIDs donations to fund this campaign to sabotage his competitors and stop construction from blocking his view? Weinstein is greed incarnate, and these wackjob NIMBYs are falling for it, hilarious, but expected.

    I have no doubt this piece was put together by a paid shill of Weinstein, how much more money of AIDs donations will he spend to get his way?

    • VOTE NO. I cannot believe you stand beside anyone in a vulnerable, low-income community and support this piece of s**t ballot measure and lie like this.

  3. Well, if Measure S passes, something more like 100 percent of your cases will start going to trial, so enjoy that.

  4. Please explain how this will stop evictions. Doesn’t this measure have the potential to increase evictions by pushing all residential development to residential and commercial sites where there is already likely to be housing built? Does this measure impact the Ellis act? Thanks.

  5. Questions You Better Ask #YesOnS Before Voting
    Measure S is the ultimate imposition of upper class “I want a good view” over middle and lower class “Please give me housing.”
    But don’t ask me. ASK THE MEASURE’S AUTHORS:
    1. If Measure S is trying to stop “greedy developers” then why does it allow them to influence and buy-up any politician AS LONG AS it doesn’t result in a building that obstructs their view (violations of spot-zoning in non-impoverished areas)?
    2. If Measure S is concerned that spot zoning will destroy the health, traffic-availability, and condition of neighborhoods, why does Measure S allow for unlimited spot zoning ONLY in poor areas (where 100% affordable housing is feasible)?
    3. If Measure S is concerned with affordable housing, why does it strike out the mandates of Measure JJJ which force developers to make up to 40% of all such new housing anywhere in Los Angeles affordable?
    4. If Measure S is concerned with evictions, why does the judicial enforcement section only address a “registered voter’s” ability to sue developers trying to block their view? Why no just cause eviction protections? Why no exemptions for the Ellis Act?
    5. If Measure S is concerned with the housing crisis, why impose a two year moratorium on all such projects instead of taking from the dozens of propositions and measures passed across California which deal with closed bidding processes and illegal evictions immediately while allowing new housing?

    • Measure S is a City measure. The Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins, dealing with evictions and rising rents, are State laws that need to be amended and or repealed. Measure S, if passed could be an influential tool to push legislators to do just that. Measure S mandates that the General Plan be updated with community input. That means that the City needs to do its job and allow community members to weigh in on what gets built in their neighborhoods. The General Plan has not been updated in over 20 years. The City prefers to leave the rigged system in place because City agencies and developers benefit from the pay-to-play process. Measure S states that “spot zoning” which is breaking the zone of a parcel to build bigger and higher, is put on hold while the General Plan is being updated. Affordable housing, which can be built anywhere in LA is exempt from the moratorium on spot zoning. Measure S does not strike out Prop JJJ. Prop JJJ asks that development build a certain percentage of affordable housing units, however those developers could lower the number of affordable units if it doesn’t conform to their bottom line. Also JJJ allows developers to not build affordable units at all and instead allows them pay an “in lieu” fee instead of building AH. All building can still continue “by right” while the General Plan is being updated.

      • Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and others have passed measures which fight the Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins through indirect mechanisms like fines and taxes.

        Measure S will knock out all mixed income housing projects, and instead of adopting the kinds of housing reform proposals we see all over the bay area to address corruption without putting a bottleneck on ALL DEVELOPMENT, EVEN MIXED INCOME HOUSING, it just stops a handful of highly visible projects TEMPORARILY.

        Basically all new projects are spotzoned so any housing JJJ would build is immediately out. And that “in lieu” fee goes to the Affordable Housing Trust which is currently running out and will only be refilled with taxpayer money.

        So how about a proposal that gives JJJ more teeth? Why knock out all new dev in a blanket ban?

        Heck, why not allow for 90% affordable housing spotzoned? Why only 100%?

  6. This is a deeply frustrating column.

    Many of the complaints in it — and, more broadly, complaints voiced by Measure S supporters — are legitimate. There IS a lack of affordable housing in LA, there IS a threat to long-time residents of rent-controlled or subsidized housing. Increased development DOES lead to greater stress on local infrastructure. Los Angeles DOES have an ongoing homeless crisis. Los Angeles DOES need to update its planning and zoning.

    The problem is that Measure S wouldn’t fix any of these things and would actually make many of them worse.

    Let’s start with something that is missing from basically all of the pro-Measure S literature: How have similar measures in LA worked in the past, and how have they worked elsewhere? The answer is basically that they haven’t. Cities that have passed similar measures see increased housing costs, decreased affordability, increased income and wealth disparities, and increased sprawl, disproportionately affecting poor people and people of color.

    How would Measure S be different? It wouldn’t, which is why the supporters don’t bother to look at any other cases outside of LA.

    Instead of recognizing that Los Angeles must plan for a future, Measure S supporters want to turn back the clock — or at least freeze LA in amber now. This is not only a terrible idea for the future of LA, it’s something that prevents Los Angeles from addressing the very real complaints of many renters (because Measure S is great for landlords).

    Which means that if S passes, there will be even more money to be made by evicting rent-controlled tenants and that even bigger skyscrapers will be built to satisfy the needs of LA (and LA developers). It’s a shame that Popp doesn’t see this.

    • As far as infrastructure goes, you’re actually better off building more dense infill projects (within reason), as it will dramatically raise the tax productivity of a parcel of land, offsetting the huge costs of all this deferred maintenance we’ve piled up over the years.

      Roads and pipes are breaking around LA because they’re hella old… not because of recent development. In most instances they were designed to handle a lot more people than they currently do.

      The alternative is just more tax hikes and service cuts every few years. Lose/lose.

  7. This is garbage. VOTE NO.

  8. Vote No on Measure S. It’s written by rich people to help other rich people. Scream it from the mountain tops: NO ON S.

  9. Measure S is a horrible idea. No one would deny we need more affordable housing in this city. Measure S is not the answer. It’s poorly conceived, entirely misleading, and packaged as “neighborhood integrity.” If Measure S passes, the winners are NIMBY homeowners who don’t want anyone changing a single thing in their precious neighborhoods. They don’t care about low-income residents or renters — not one tiny bit. And paint whatever picture you want of developers. To label them all as careless and greedy is ludicrous and utterly incorrect. Developers build housing. You might not always like it what they build, but someone has to put up new homes and buildings, and sometimes older decaying structures have to taken down. There is no question — zero — that this city needs more places for people to live, at all income levels. Please, look at the issue closely. Do your research. You will realize that S is a very bad idea. Vote no.

  10. Elena just made the case to vote No on S. S does nothing to stop or slow evictions. In fact, it will likely increase evictions because it will cause renters to capitalize on skyrocketing rents and push out long term renters. This situation caused by measure s halting development, accelerating the rise in prices.

  11. Michael Weinstein should be forced to resign after the misuse of funds and the tarnishing of an organization that was intended to do actual good.

    VOTE NO ON S!!

    This measure solves absolutely nothing and provides a false hope at preservation and affordability. It does way more harm than good.

  12. Yes on S is the only way, as Popp writes, to give power back to us–the people, instead if to developers and city council. What the Yes on S Measure is up against is misinformation and the type of closed mind that dismisses the entire measure as “garbage.”
    We need S to slow the frantic pace of mega-developments, to force everyone to take a breath and look at what is happening to our city. We need S to inject reason and smart planning that enriches, not robs the character and integrity of our neighborhoods.

  13. Elena does great work protecting tenants, but I am sorry to say she has been grossly misled by the lies of the Measure S campaign. It does absolutely NOTHING for renters — it does not stop Ellis Act evictions, and by placing a ban on new housing construction, it only drives up the cost of renting for everyone.

    There is a good reason that Larry Gross, the most respected and admired tenants’ rights advocate in Los Angeles over the past 40-plus years, and the organization he founded, the Coalition for Economic Survival, the city’s premiere tenants’ rights advocacy group, OPPOSE MEASURE S. That’s right — the people who understand renters’ rights and needs and have been defending them for decades say Vote NO on Measure S.

    • Thanks Larry for putting others first. Measure s is a selfish scam benefiting well off homeowners.

    • Thank you Larry, well said!

    • Measure S is a City measure. The Ellis Act is a State law, so is Costa Hawkins. Both need to be amended and or repealed to stop evictions and rising rents. If Measure S passes it could be instrumental to influence state legislators to amend or repeal those state laws. Measure S deals with planning. If the City does not plan for infrastructure upgrades, if it allows shoddy environmental review reports endangering people’s lives, if the City gives carte blanche to developers who are willing to pay-to-play and so get special favors for spot zoning and general plan amendments, then we are building in a haphazard way, not in a smart way. Why has the City resisted updating the General Plan for over 20 years? Because certain City officials and theiri developer friends benefit from the broken system. The People need to have a say in what is planned and what gets built. We need affordable housing, housing the conforms to the area median income. Right now expensive market rate units are being built, but the DEMAND is for affordable housing. Prop JJJ has loopholes that reduce the number of affordable units and Prop HHH is so vague about where and how they will build affordable housing that construction may not break ground for years. Vote Yes on S.

      • Ellis Act has strong support in Sacramento and is actually very generous to tenants (large payouts for those displaced.) I can tell your heart is in the right place, but S will not lower rents or minimize displacement, it will only make both of this issue much worse. Especially in Eastsider neighborhoods where demand for housing seems insatiable at the moment.

      • Actually, cities can fight both Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins act. Berkeley, San Francisco, and other california cities have done just that through indirect means.

        Yet Measure S doesn’t even begin to address it.

        We need reform, but Measure S is not a real answer it’s a childish reaction by Mikey Weinstein to not getting his way.

  14. Both Sides -ME Voting Yes – WHY- FAIL to Plan…PLAN TO FAIL…Ours has failed for 10 years….. still trying to get people to talk to the Measure….rather than other issues…By Right – NOW Sunset could be increased by 150% of existing floor area – 1.5M sqft retail… and >2M sqft of residential floor area… Affordability and homeless housing can be dealt with as an element of General Plan in the first 6 months…parking can be dealt with as a separate GenPlan Element… EIRs for CommPlans have been/are tragic even when done by/with City Planning only…

  15. Yes, sometimes RSO housing units are demolished in order to build new market rate units. However many of these projects are built within current zoning and therefore are NOT EFFECTED BY MEASURE S. However, what Measure S does effect are housing projects that require general plan amendants or zone changes, like housing projects built on parking lots where absolutely no one is displaced in the process. I understand the concerns around gentrification and displacement but Measure S will only exacerbate the issue. VOTE NO.

  16. Thank you for posting this sensible argument for Measure S. I trust someone who has dedicated herself to protecting people from being displaced by gentrification more than the various vested interests arguing against the measure.

    • You do realize that the coalition against S is made up of affordable housing advocates, right?

      All S has is the LA tenants union which admits to the negative effects of S but refuses to allow any development without addressing Ellis.

      I suggest looking up who supports what.


  17. Vote NO. S doesn’t think about the big picture here. Simple supply and demand for a high-demand city. S will exacerbate poverty and homelessness across the city, no debate whatsoever.

  18. The City has not updated its General Plan for over 20 years. Why? Because they benefit from a system that allows giving special favors to developers who pay big bucks for “spot zoning” and general plan amendments to build bigger and higher. Expensive, market rate units are being built while affordable housing is being torn down. Developers are not incentivized to build affordable housing. Even Prop JJJ has loopholes that prevent AH from being built. Prop HHH, which is supposed to build 100% affordable housing, will take years before they break ground. In the meantime Measure S asks that the City update its General Plan with community input, that means the People have a say. We need more affordable housing for income levels $50,000 and below. Housing needs to be built according to the area median income, not according to the financial plans of the develoeprs. Evictions and rising rents are a function of State laws which need to be amended and or repealed. Measure S, a City measure, if passed could be influential so that legislators change those state laws that allow landlords to evict tenants en masse and raise rents upon vacancy. The DEMAND is for affordable housing, not for expensive market rate. Measure S slows down the process so the City and the People can re-asses infrastructure and environmental review to build smartly.

    • Didn’t the City just pass a bill to do just that, hire more folks in the planing depts. in order to update the zoning on a more routine basis.

      Not to mention, Garcetti already tried to update in Hollywood years ago, with PLENTY of public input and give-and-take in the process, and was eventually just sued by the very same people supporting S.

      No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.

  19. I think it is relevant to bring up that Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) recently introduced a bill to repeal Costa-Hawkins:


  20. What a shortsighted and superficial analysis. Measure S will restrict housing supply during a time of increasing demand, driving up rents and causing low and middle income tenants to be driven out of their homes. It’s not complicated. We need more–and denser–housing development or rents will skyrocket. Whether those housing developments are marketed toward low, middle, or high income tenants doesn’t really matter. Any increase in supply will put downward pressure on rents. And there’s no need to ban new developments to reevaluate the General Plan. NO on S.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *