Portion of "Yes on S" email featuring Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Portion of “Yes on S” email featuring Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Yes on S campaign said Thursday its use of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s photo and quote in an email blast is a not a “dirty trick,” arguing the mayor has expressed support for the reforms the campaign seeks while sidestepping the question if the email was deliberately misleading.

The email features a photo of Garcetti with the quote, “Exceptions to the General Plan must become the rare exception to the rule,” followed by the phrases, “I agree” and “Yes on S,” although the phrases are not included inside the quotation marks.

Garcetti objected to the email and said the campaign should “cease and desist from any suggestion that my position on Measure S is anything but a strong `no.'”

In a statement, the Yes on S campaign argued that in September, Mayor Garcetti agreed with the key reforms in Measure S, after our supporters, rich and poor, East and West, insisted upon a meeting with him at City Hall.

Days later, the mayor agreed in a publicly released letter that backroom `ex parte’ meetings between his City Planning Commissioners and developers must be banned. His written words: `I agree.”‘

The statement did not directly address the fact that the email quote about General Plan amendments and Garcetti’s support of banning ex parte meetings are not about the same topic, or that the email gives the impression the mayor is a supporter of the measure, when he in fact opposes it.

Measure S on the March 7 ballot would halt all General Plan amendments — or special permission to developers known as “spot zoning” — for two years while the city updates its General Plan and community plans that guide neighborhood development.

Voters who will decide Measure S will also be determining whether to re- elect Garcetti or one of his 10 challengers.

Supporters of Measure S argue the city’s procedure of frequently granting spot zoning requests while its elected leaders routinely take campaign donations from developers creates a cozy relationship and leaves the impression that City Hall can be bought.

Garcetti has publicly expressed opposition to Measure S because he said it would limit the city’s ability to build affordable housing and hurt the local economy.

He has expressed support for some of the changes Measure S seeks, like banning developers from using their own environmental consultants and updating the city’s General Plan and community plans more frequently, and has supported a motion passed by the City Council last week seeking those changes.

Measure S lost the support of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Thursday because of the motion passed by the council. The group had previously expressed support but pulled it.

“Councilman Paul Koretz was vital in instigating immediate action to advance long range planning reforms in the city like those promoted by Measure S that will update community plans and General Plan elements on a timely and consistent basis,” said MRCA Executive Officer Joseph T Edmiston.

The Yes on S campaign did not respond to a request to comment.

Meanwhile, some South Los Angeles leaders also spoke out against Measure S Thursday at a news conference, arguing it will limit the city’s ability to construct affordable housing and create a General Plan amendment ban longer than two years.

“Measure S backers are trying to fool South L.A., but we won’t let them,” Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said.

“Measure S will stop or slow the redevelopment of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the redevelopment of the former Bethune Library site, and market-rate and affordable housing sites alike, costing the community long- sought commercial opportunities and much-needed housing and jobs. We must make sure these projects, with the good jobs, economic investment and affordable housing we need, go forward. We must vote No on S.”

The No on S campaign sent out a release stating urban and environmental policy expert Mark Vallianatos of Abundant Housing LA found that of the 2,455 units of affordable housing that would need a zoning change or a General Plan Amendment proposed in Los Angeles over the past 5 years, 95 percent of it would be blocked by Measure S.

On Feb. 1, Yes on S campaign manager Jill Stewart told City News Service, “We have looked at 81,500 projects built in Los Angeles since the year 2000, and the amount of affordable housing that required a major zone change or general plan amendment is minuscule.”

— City News Service

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