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Ballot proposal could worsen L.A. housing crisis, mayor says

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned Tuesday that a proposed ballot measure aimed at cracking down on real estate "mega projects" could make things worse for the city’s renters.

Garcetti said he plans to meet with backers of the proposed ballot measure, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, to see if a compromise can be reached that avoids a public vote. But he also said the restrictions contained in the ballot proposal could depress housing construction for Angelenos already facing "higher and higher rents."

“We still need to build things in Los Angeles,” he said.

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The AIDS nonprofit is part of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., a group of activists seeking new limits on the city’s ability to change planning and zoning rules for specific real estate projects. The group said it wants voters to impose a moratorium of up to two years for real estate projects that require an increase in the allowable density.

Foundation President Michael Weinstein said Tuesday that neither Garcetti nor his staff had reached out to him to discuss the ballot proposal. Weinstein also disagreed with the mayor's assertions, saying the current real estate boom is producing homes for the well-heeled.

"The stuff that’s being built now is all beyond the reach of even middle-income people," he said. "If they were actually building stuff that people could afford, you could make [Garcetti's] argument."

The Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is fighting a proposal for two 30-story residential towers on a parking lot next to its headquarters. To win approval, that project will need a zone change and other special approvals.

The proposed ballot measure also seeks to scale back the city's power to decrease the number of parking spaces required at a specific real estate project.

Garcetti has set a goal of 100,000 new housing units by 2021. Appearing at a news conference dealing with El Niño, he argued that the gap between average incomes and the average rent is worse in Los Angeles County than in any other part of the United States.

Follow @DavidZahniser for what's happening at Los Angeles City Hall

Times staff writer Peter Jamison contributed to this report.

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