Endorsement: Yes on Measure LH in the city of Los Angeles

In the city of Los Angeles, we endorse a Yes vote Nov. 8 on Measure LH to promote the building of more desperately needed low-income housing amid the way-too-long crisis of homelessness.

Passage of Measure LH would simply allow L.A. City Hall to use already existing public monies to build or buy up to 75,000 units of housing equally spread through every council district in the city.

The problem with LH — which, again, should get an affirmative vote — is not of its own making. The only reason Angeleno voters even need to give the thumbs-up is because of an archaic California constitutional amendment that requires voters to approve the move every time a municipality wants to spend public monies on housing for poor people. In 1950, clearly prejudiced residents of Eureka, in the state’s far northwest, objected to a housing project in their city. They got a state group called the California Real Estate Association to put on the ballot Article 34, which was successful, and which to this day, more than 70 years later, makes local voters say yes before their own elected officials can approve publicly funded affordable housing projects.

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In other words, it’s government-mandated NIMBYism, and it’s one of the things — along with, of course, the absurd over-regulation and consequent high costs of building anything, anywhere in California — that has created the severe housing shortage here. It comes from a time when real-estate groups also successfully supported racial covenants that segregated neighborhoods throughout the state.

Thankfully, in 2024, California voters have the chance to overturn Article 34 through a measure by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica. While other states have had such NIMBY laws before, they have all now been repealed, and California is the only state with the restrictions.

Meanwhile, there’s no time to lose in the effort to get roofs over heads throughout Los Angeles. There will be no financial impact on Angeleno taxpayers with its passage. The city hasn’t authorized new affordable housing since 2008. In the words of Los Feliz Neighborhood Council president Jon Deutsch and Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing executive director Alan Greenlee: “We need to get serious about tackling the crisis of our time.”

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