Los Angeles Votes Down Planning Overhaul

Los Angeles Votes Down Planning Overhaul

Plus, what Tuesday election says about voter turnout in cities.

Mayor Eric Garcetti on a Los Angeles River tour (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Los Angeles voters Tuesday reelected Mayor Eric Garcetti and voted down an anti-development measure that could have halted the creation of more multiunit housing. But voter turnout was remarkably low despite the somewhat high profile of what was on the ballot (as far as city elections go) — and despite Twitter exhortations from the likes of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom (California lieutenant governor, and former mayor of San Francisco).

The win for Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ pro-development, pro-transit, pro-climate incumbent mayor, surprised no one and was characterized by the Los Angeles Times as a landslide.

Garcetti won reelection with 80.9 percent of the vote according to the Times — but while that may be a landslide as far as proportions go, he received only about 200,000 votes. The Times estimates voter turnout to have been at about 11 percent.

Noting the low number, one person tweeted: “That means there were more podcasts recorded in this city today than votes.”

Voter turnout in city elections is notoriously sparse, of course, but according to the Knight Foundation, roughly 1 in 5 voters tends to show up for mayoral elections — a figure that suggests Tuesday’s primary was particularly poorly attended.

Measure S was the other hot item on the ticket — in as much as local zoning measures can be hot. It was voted down by a wide margin, with roughly 69 percent voting no.

That’s a promising figure for L.A.’s pro-development community, as Josh Stephens wrote for Next City in February. The measure, also called the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” would have “vaporized” the city’s current planning and development process, he wrote, and effectively favored the “lower-density, sleepy Los Angeles of decades ago instead of the denser, more dynamic metropolis that is trying to molt out of its 20th-century skin.”

Drawing parallels with the (primarily white) surges of nationalism and nostalgia that helped to elect U.S. President Donald Trump and eject the U.K. from the European Union, Stephens wrote that Measure S, essentially, sought to “make Los Angeles great again.”

It was easily beaten, but not everyone saw the promise of a more inclusive city in the primary results. According to the Times, protesters gathered outside the mayor’s election night party, demanding that he take a firmer stance against the current president — and federal deportations.

“Our friends and neighbors are under attack! What do we do?” a man shouted as partygoers wearing suits and dresses walked past, the Times reports.

“Stand up fight back!” the crowd reportedly shouted back. The reporter also heard shouts of: “Our city, not Garcetti!”

Several other measures were on the ballot yesterday — notably a tax for homelessness services, which passed — along with council and school board positions. A full list, along with results, can be viewed here.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.

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Tags: urban planninglos angelesmayorsdensity

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