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Los Angeles Measure B's Curious Fine Print

An extremely obscure measure on the Nov. 4 ballot would wipe out the two-story height restrictions on poverty housing in Los Angeles, legally allowing tall towers containing low-income housing once again.

The measure, known as Proposition B or Measure B, would also wipe out the Los Angeles voter-approved cap allowing no more than 52,500 of these low-rent units, in carefully controlled dollops of 30 units or less per building, citywide.

City Council President Eric Garcetti, an avid density hawk who has pushed hard for taller, crowded, yard-free housing in Los Angeles, is engaged in some breathtaking spin on this. Check out how easily he spun writers and editors at the Daily Breeze and Daily News:

Those two newspapers over the summer published one of the rare stories in 2008 about this grossly under-reported ballot measure, mostly ignored by journos and barely mentioned by bloggers who cover City Hall.

Let's say you believe it's fine to put the poor back in high-rises. Let's say you think it's great to add far more than 30 such low-income units to a complex in your area.

Good for you! But you'd still want to know that's what Proposition B allows. Right?

Yet writing about Proposition B, the two newspapers entirely accepted Garcetti's spin, beginning with the humorously Orwellian headline, "Housing limits go on Los Angeles ballot."

That's right. In L.A., when you wipe out longtime housing height-and-unit limits, the pols and the media call that creating limits.

Don't you just love this town?

By the way, if anyone in Los Angeles has seen a news story anywhere, or a blog anywhere, that actually lifts a finger to explain Proposition B's wiping out of these longtime Los Angeles limits on high-rise towers for the poor, please let us know.

We plan to explain the views of both sides in an upcoming LA Weekly ballot report. We've learned, for instance, that Garcetti & Co. have to ask voters for permission to wipe out the height and housing unit limits because Article 34 of the California State Constitution prohibits city councils from jamming lots of poverty housing into a city—unless voters agree to let them do it.

We will give both sides on Proposition B a chance to spin their worldviews. But the article won't be headlined "Housing limits go on Los Angeles ballot."