Leaders of the campaign behind a development-control measure on the March ballot said Monday they will not stop sending out mailers that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department called unlawful for mimicking the appearance of an eviction notice sent by the department.
Sheriff’s officials sent the campaign a cease-and-desist letter last week, demanding that it stop using the department’s name and image in the mailer. It also called the mailer unlawful under the California Business and Professions Code.
The campaign responded: “While we respect the work and the mission of the Sheriff’s Department, we are disappointed that they and the Los Angeles County Counsel have inserted themselves into a political campaign in an apparent attempt to influence the outcome.”
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.
Supporters of Measure S argue the city’s procedure of frequently granting spot zoning requests while elected officials routinely take campaign donations from developers creates a cozy relationship and leaves the impression that City Hall can be bought.
Opponents of Measure S — including Gov. Jerry Brown, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilman Jose Huizar — say it would limit the city’s ability to build affordable housing and hurt the local economy.
The eviction-notice mailer is intended to send the message that people could end up being evicted due to the rising cost of housing Measure S purports to help solve.
But in a letter to the sheriff’s department, Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival wrote that its leaders “have been getting phones calls from tenants who say they became frightened and unnerved upon opening their mail boxes and thinking they had just received an eviction notice.
Then, they became angry when they realized that this was a dirty campaign ploy to scare them into voting for Measure S.”
LASD officials said state law prohibits a nongovernmental entity from using a trade, brand name, seal, emblem or insignia in a manner that can be construed as governmental approval.
But the Yes on S campaign dismissed the idea that the mailer could be mistaken as being from the LASD.
“The Sheriff’s Department’s purported concerns about the Coalition to Preserve LA’s `Yes on S’ campaign mailer regarding evictions are quite overblown. There is no risk of the public being misled that the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is affiliated with or authorized the campaign mailer,” according to the organization.
Earlier this month, Garcetti criticized the campaign for using his image and a quote in an email blast, calling it a “dirty trick” that made it look like he supports the campaign when he is actually opposed.
— City News Service