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Campaign retracts Leonardo DiCaprio's endorsement of anti-development measure

Campaign retracts Leonardo DiCaprio's endorsement of anti-development measure
A representative for Leonardo DiCaprio says the actor never endorsed the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 ballot. (Vianney Le Caer / Invision/Associated Press)

The campaign for a March ballot measure that supporters say would restrict out-of-scale development throughout Los Angeles received a boost this summer when Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio backed the initiative.

Except, it turns out, he didn't.

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Two months after the actor's name was first associated with the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a representative for DiCaprio said the actor is neutral on the measure.

Confusion over DiCaprio's endorsement was reported earlier by Curbed LA and Vox.

The campaign director for the ballot measure took responsibility for the endorsement flap.

"I exchanged a number of emails with his publicists in August and I thought we had received final word, in this exchange, confirming his support for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative," Jill Stewart said in a statement. "I apparently misunderstood. We apologize to Mr. DiCaprio for this misunderstanding."

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would temporarily block real estate projects that require exemptions from key city development rules on height, density and overall size. But critics argue that such a moratorium would reduce the city's housing stock, increase rents and exacerbate the city's problem with homelessness.

In August, DiCaprio's name was among those signed to a letter sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti that demanded an overhaul of the city's planning process. The letter specifically asked the city to stop the practice of allowing developers to sponsor environmental impact reports and prohibit ex parte communications between developers and elected officials or members of the city Planning Commission. The group also asked for a new General Plan that would dictate what types of developments are allowed in the city's neighborhoods.

Critics of the ballot measure seized on the confusion over the Oscar winner's endorsement.

"It's not clear whether the initiative's backers lied about DiCaprio's support or just misunderstood it. Neither would be surprising, since their building moratorium is built on a mixture of half-truths, bad math and outright deceptive statements," a statement from the Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs said.

Twitter: @TheCityMaven

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