How “Yes on S” tricks Angelenos into voting against themselves

Remember the morning after Brexit happened, when Nigel Farage went on TV and admitted that several of the key promises proposed by the campaign weren’t actually true? Remember how duped so many voters felt? Well get ready: it’s about to happen all over again. Except this time Nigel Farage is Jill Stewart, and Brexit is Measure S, the March ballot initiative to halt all real estate development in Los Angeles for the next two years.

Back in June, I wrote an open letter to Jill explaining how Measure S (formerly called the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative”) was not an appropriate way to address the problems she sees in Los Angeles, and how it was counterintuitively going to make problems like gentrification worse. At that point I assumed that in spite of her ill-informed approach, Stewart did legitimately have good intentions. But this morning, I received a flyer in mail for the Measure S campaign and realized just how far past constructive discussion we are. We are beyond facts and reasonable discussion; Stewart has gone full Trump.

The fliers are stuffed full of empty rhetoric, the very same kind Trump used to galvanize voters into blindly supporting him. She’s pointing fingers and calling people names (Liar!) and giving them labels (“the billionaire developers”) to appeal to raw emotion without offering anything more than random, unexplored factoids to back her stance. This is evil genius at it’s finest.

Remember when you were a kid, and “he who smelt it, dealt it” was the golden rule? Well it’s time to bust out the old clubhouse rule book, because that’s exactly what’s going on here: Jill Stewart is a fraud. She’s sending out these fliers calling other people liars and trying to win your support, because in reality, she farted in the elevator, and she needs to blame it on the real estate developer next to her before you figure it out.

Your smelly farts aren’t welcome here, Jill. Real estate development is not the problem: Measure S is. Let’s break this down piece by piece.

While technically true, this is incredibly misleading. Yes, a small number of people may benefit from additional affordable housing, but the vast majority of people who don’t qualify for affordable housing, as well as those who do but have not been able to get it, will see their rents skyrocket. This is because building any kind of housing, even luxury housing, brings down the overall cost of housing in the city. And so goes the opposite.

Think of it in terms of cars. Most of us aren’t going to run out and buy a brand new fully loaded Mercedes, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be able to afford a used one a few years down the line, does it? Housing works exactly the same way. There is a finite number of hyper-wealthy people in this city that can afford to pay luxury prices. If developers build more luxury units than there are rich people to rent them, all of a sudden they have to start lowering the prices to appeal to the less wealthy. We’ve already started to see this happen.

Furthermore, each time they get a bite, the person who moves into the luxury apartment needs to move out of their current apartment, making it available to other apartment seekers. With a ban on all but affordable housing however, those people will never move, and everyone who doesn’t qualify for affordable housing will be stuck competing against the super-rich for the same limited housing stock.

Even those who do qualify for affordable housing will find this doesn’t quite play out as expected. Since pressure on market rate rentals will have increased dramatically, many people who currently rent at market rate will no longer be able to afford to do so. They’ll then have to compete against everyone else in the affordable housing market for the extremely limited supply, and since there’s a cap on how much developers can charge for affordable housing, that supply will not grow much. In the end, even affordable housing will become more expensive and harder to get as a result of Measure S.

Measure M will indeed create 465,000 new jobs, however, Measure M is entirely unrelated to Measure S and absolutely does not change the fact that Measure S will destroy jobs. Furthermore, in case you need proof that Jill Stewart doesn’t give a shit about jobs, she actually opposed Measure M!

Measure S is a citizen-sponsored initiative placed on the March 7 ballot by more than 100,000 Los Angeles voters

What they won’t tell you is that the 100,000 signatures they gathered to put Measure S on the ballot were gathered by lying to people about what the initiative actually does. Multiple times while leaving the grocery store this past summer I was approached by paid signature gatherers for Measure S who told me they needed my support to “protect the environment in LA.” Given that Measure S shuts down transit-oriented development to serve the interests of car-dependent people like Jill Stewart who don’t even live in Los Angeles and need to commute in from Calabasas, “protecting the environment” is a gross mischaracterization of what Measure S does. Measure S is awful for the environment, and those signatures were gathered in deceit.

Oh, and then there’s the bit about the March 7th ballot. Did you know they actually qualified for the November ballot, but they decided to move it to March because the turnout is lower and has a higher percentage of rich white voters? Mull that one over for a bit.


Look, I’m not saying the way development happens in LA is perfect — it’s not. And as I’ve already admitted in my previous letter to Jill, there are parts of Measure S that I think would actually be great, like preventing developers from conducting their own environmental reviews. What I’m not okay with though, is sending out false propaganda to demonize opponents as wealthy, selfish billionaires, when in fact it’s Jill who lives in Calabasas, and it’s Jill who is trying to legislate a city she doesn’t even live in to make sure her precious parking lots don’t get turned into homes for people who actually live in LA.

Don’t fall for Jill Stewart’s shady campaign propaganda. She’s selfish, and she wants you to vote against yourself. Vote No on Measure S this March 7th.


Stephen Corwin is the founder of CityGrows, a GovTech company based in Los Angeles. Send him a tweet, or subscribe.