Gov. Jerry Brown Should Be Ashamed of Attacking Measure S

'Jerryfication' and LA City Hall hand over too much power to developers

It's no surprise that Gov. Jerry Brown has come out swinging against Measure S, the citizen initiative to reduce undue developer control of City Hall, and of what kind of city Los Angeles becomes.

Brown emerged last year as the key force fighting to undo the California Environmental Quality Act, siding not with people but with wealthy developers who blast away these protective state rules that make sure corporate interests don't harm the environment or our health.

Last year, major environmental groups and the Yes on Measure S coalition fought against Brown's proposal to gut CEQA and Coastal Act environmental protections for virtually any urban project where developers agreed to add an insignificant number of affordable housing units.

We urged our supporters, and those who believe developers are the last ones who should decide their communities' fates, to call Brown to protest Trailer Bill 707.

Brown's now dead idea — but said to be merely hibernating — would trample over the California Environmental Quality Act, handing the wheel to developers who have shown that without environmental oversight they will gladly place thousands of children in harm's way, destroy affordable housing units, and create massive traffic.

The Coalition is fighting hard against this viewpoint, by asking voters to approve Measure S on the March Los Angeles ballot to end undue developer control over what happens in our communities.

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Yes on Measure S has criticized L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council for approving family housing directly adjacent to poisonous freeways, as Brown has tacitly embraced. These developments are dubbed Black Lung Lofts.

Brown's now-dead attempt to detour around CEQA would have hastened these dangerous housing projects on the Westside, Eastside, in South LA and in the San Fernando Valley.

Jill Stewart, campaign director of Yes on Measure S, said of Brown's long-expected slam on the Measure S citizen initiative:

“We're not surprised Brown has come out swinging against Measure S. We say health and environmental safety must come first — families should not be placed in apartments built on seeping brown fields or jammed next to freeways sitting in an invisible river of toxins. It's an outrageous position for Brown. Join us in passing Measure S on March 7, to let the governor know this is not OK."

CEQA is a crucial tool to assure safe housing. But in 2016, often urged on by Brown, several legislators who took money from developers tried to pass some 30 bills to tear apart and gut CEQA.

Brown and these legislators ignored USC's watershed, widely quoted, Children's Health Study of 3,600 L.A. children. Scientists now know that youngsters living near freeways suffer permanent, chronic lung damage.

Experts say that this tainted freeway-adjacent housing, which is highly profitably for developers and has been dubbed Black Lung Lofts by LA Weekly, can't be “mitigated” with air filters, trees or tight windows — microscopic metal and rubber particles still lodge in the lungs and brain.

In 2007, the USC researchers went to Los Angeles City Hall and urged Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti and the City Council to act.

The leaders of L.A. ignored the researchers, and last year, nine years later, issued an irrelevant and health-endangering new policy to install air filters. Since being warned by USC researchers, the Los Angeles City Council has pushed for more than a dozen freeway-adjacent housing complexes. In 2010, then-Councilman Tom LaBonge explained, “It would be great if we could call a time-out and try to plan better, but it's not practical."

Here are the California Environmental Quality Act Attorneys backing Yes on Measure S on the March 7 ballot. Brown should wake up to this issue: Robert Silverstein, Sabrina Venskus, Doug Carstens, Arthur Pugsley, Frank Angel, Noel Weiss, Mitchell M. Tsai and Eric F. Edmunds Jr.

Brown’s track record as the mayor of Oakland revealed his penchant for cutting deals with developers and abandoning low-income residents. Black residents in particular were shoved out of Oakland in favor of big developers given carte blanche to pursue Mayor Brown's vision of gentrification. As the New York Times reported in September 2010:

“[Brown] alienated some of his traditional base, progressive and black leaders who derided his policies as “Jerryfication” and accused him of abandoning the rest of the city for his downtown dreams.”

Vote Yes on S on March 7.

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