Is Measure ‘S’ all about saving a view?

| January 26, 2017 | 6 Comments

IS THIS THE REAL ISSUE? Shown is the proposed Palladium Residences project that preserves the historic Hollywood Palladium and adds two residential towers behind, on empty parking lots, all within two blocks of the Hollywood and Vine Metro Red Line subway station. Shown at left is the existing 22-story Sunset Media Center building where Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has his headquarters office.

 

Guest writer articles advocating “yes” and “no” on Measure S can be found on the front page at: http://issuu.com/larchmontchronicle/docs/lc_02_2017.

 

Is the Measure S ballot initiative that would halt much construction for two years citywide, and that is going to the voters in March, really just about a powerful executive trying to protect the view from his office? The lobbyist for a neighboring project made that claim in a “Los Angeles Times” article in March of last year.

Is this expensive battle (close to $2 million on each side, so far) possibly just a fight between two neighbors?

One is a developer hoping to build a $324 million high-rise project between two existing high-rise towers on the north side of Sunset Blvd., just east of Vine St. and within two blocks of a Metro Red Line subway station.

The other is AIDS Healthcare Foundation executive Michael Weinstein, whose offices are on the 21st floor of the existing Sunset Media Center tower, one of the largest office buildings in Hollywood, 22 stories tall, with more than 320,000 square feet of space.

It seems so, according to endless comments on local social media (if those can be believed).

Recently, at a meeting held at the headquarters of the Coalition to Preserve LA, in an AIDS Healthcare Foundation media production facility on Sunset Blvd., leaders of the construction moratorium movement shared their tactics and plans for the March 7 election.

Campaign director for the measure, Jill Stewart, conducted the Dec. 28 meeting. Mr. Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, spoke and said: “We are taking the gloves off … and, we shall stand or fall on whether we can mobilize communities.”

Follow the money

There can be little doubt that this is a political campaign funded by moneyed interests, according to public filings at ethics.lacity.org.

The nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, as of Dec. 31, has provided $1,901,386 in political contributions, which is 97 percent of the funds raised for the “yes” side.

Similarly, of the $1,716,422 raised by the “no” side as of Dec. 31, 60 percent has come from CH Palladium LLC, the developer of the proposed Palladium Residences project across Argyle Ave. from the existing AIDS Healthcare Foundation office on top floors of the Sunset Media Center tower.

Most of the other “no” contributions comprising the remaining 40 percent raised are fairly large as well, with seven gifts in the ranges of $25,000, $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000, with those coming from other local property owners, architects and engineers, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and labor unions.

Is this entire construction moratorium really about a dispute over Mr. Weinstein’s view from his office … or maybe just a fight over who are the tougher guys, Mr. Weinstein … or the principals of the developers, Crescent Heights and CH Palladium LLC? Mr. Weinstein’s combative nature is recounted in a detailed profile story, including a photo of his office and view, in the April 4, 2016, issue of the “LA Weekly” at: tinyurl.com/h8cjuej.

According to the March 2016 “Los Angeles Times” article, Mr. Weinstein had stated: “We intend to exhaust every legal avenue, including filing suit, to stop the Palladium towers.” Is halting many other construction projects throughout Los Angeles just another route to that goal?

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Comments (6)

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  1. Mary Ann Cherry says:

    Get serious. Stop this kind of skewed ‘reporting.’ Talk about what Measure S is really about. It’s about halting the delinquent abuse of the city’s zoning guidelines and the gross over-development of multi-use properties at the high cost of affordable housing.

    I’d like to see an opponent of S make the case that the city of Los Angeles is not dense enough with development. THAT is what Measure S is about and not one guy’s view. Larchmont Chronicle, get serious about serious issues.

  2. Rachel Olivier says:

    Opinion columns by guest writers covering both sides of the issue are available to read here:

    https://issuu.com/larchmontchronicle/docs/lc_02_2017

  3. Steven Benson says:

    How sad, shallow, and glib that you reduce this to an ad hominem attack on the guy behind the initiative.

    Have you not seen what spot zoning is doing to our city? Have you not ventured north of Melrose, between Highland and Vine, to see what’s going on there, with affordable housing being knocked down to make way for luxury developments?

    Have you not looked at the monstrosity at the corner of Wilshire and Highland, and recoiled?

    This piece was a cheap ill-informed shot, with no insight, no analysis, and no substantive content. It wouldn’t pass muster at any serious newspaper, and as the publisher, you embarrassed yourself, and your paper by writing it, and publishing it on the front page.

  4. Long_Shanks says:

    These are the same types of NIMBY’s as the one’s who set LA’s subway system back 30 yrs. They live in an alt-reality where the city’s population has never grown. Hence they believe no new house needs to be constructed.

    Look to Venice Beach as a cautionary tale. Fiercely anti-development and now rent for a 1 bedroom hovers around 5k a month.

    No on S

  5. Barbara Broide says:

    Whether one supports or opposes Measure S it is wrong to reduce this effort to being a fight between the AIDS Healthcare Foundation leadership and the developer of a nearby project. This fight is about much more than that.

    Communities have long been critical about the way that the City of Los Angeles allows for land to be rezoned for individual developers and their projects at the expense of zoning designations, the General Plan and the local Community Plans. The failure to update community plans has served as the rationale/excuse for permitting spot zoning /changes in zoning for all kinds of projects. It is common knowledge that in LA, developers purchase properties based not upon the actual zoning of the land, but rather based upon what they hope to obtain through the lobbying process greased by highly paid lobbyist/lawyers who always bring in a chorus of supporters from the Chambers, and labor trade union reps and their members who advocate for projects they know little about. These projects often cause havoc in a community, where infrastructure is lacking, traffic is at gridlock, etc.

    This isn’t about NIMBY’s always saying no; this is about citizens sick and tired of seeing their height districts blown through, about needed industrial/light manufacturing zoned land (which is meant to be preserved per the community plan documents) changed for other uses, about the property rights of neighbors being trampled, quality of life diminished, etc. This is about elected Councilmembers too often ignoring the input of professional City Planning staff. Yes, the AIDS Care Health Foundation has been the major financial supporter of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, and the entire City should be grateful that for once, there has been a funding source that has given voice to the local communities so that those voices can be heard.

    The Initiative/Measure S has already caused the City to designate additional funds to the Planning Dept. to staff the revision of some Community Plans. The City has acknowledged the need to change the way that EIR documents are done —but has not gone far enough because developers will still be doing the hiring and paying of consultants whose work makes up the EIR documents for their own projects.

    Those citizens who have attempted to have their voices heard know that no matter how bad an EIR document is, no matter how strong a case can be made by the community, in the end the City approves large projects via spot zoning under the guise/cover of “overriding considerations”. It is those spot zoned projects (less than 5 percent of all projects) that Measure S will stop for two years.
    Sadly, the City needs a TIME OUT to take a deep breath and begin the process of transforming a culture that is now out of control. It is time to level the playing field and to invest in the revision of the City’s General and Community Plans. It will take resources and time to do true community planning involving representatives of each community’s constituent groups. It is critical that adequate time be allowed/scheduled to educate and enlist those interested in participating.

    For a long time, our City’s Planning Commission has made reference to the saying “Do real planning.” That planning starts with updated planning documents that represent our collected vision of the future. Fearing the Measure’s passage, the City has made some beginning steps. However, LA’s long history of dysfunction in Planning/Land Use and its bad habits well enshrined over time will be hard to change should Measure S fail. The Measure may not be perfect, but the land use entitlement process as it has been practiced and applied in LA over many years stinks. We all owe the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and those working to pass Measure S a big thank you for bringing that dysfunction to the public’s attention and for making this an issue at the forefront of current policy discussions.
    What is needed now are some non-campaign funded unbiased analyses as to the true potential impacts should the measure pass so that fear tactics cannot be used to sway voters. The press should be a part of an effort to provide voters with facts — not unsupported opinions.
    When you say, “follow the money” that is exactly what communities have been doing and why developers most often get exactly what they want. The LA Times has done a good job in exposing the cozy relationship of specific large donor/developers with the Council. That coupled with the Council’s practice of allowing for individual Councilmembers to make decisions about projects in their own districts (so that there is no one looking out for the best interests of the City as a whole) makes it nearly impossible to challenge large projects favored by a sitting Councilmember. The system, the status quo is broken and must be fixed. Should Measure S fail, there is much fear that City Hall will be back to business as usual.

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