By Andrew Khouri and Roger Vincent

As the city debated slow-growth Measure S, developer Century West Partners refused to buy land that would need special exemptions to build, fearful the two-year moratorium on such projects would pass.
This week, the Los Angeles initiative went down to a resounding defeat at the polls, losing by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Now if a broker called with such a deal, Century West may bite.

“We are going to answer the phone,” said Kevin Farrell, the chief operating officer of Century West, which has built about 1,000 housing units in Los Angeles over the last four years.

But Farrell and other developers said they aren’t taking the vote as a mandate to go on an acquisition and building spree. Instead, they said voters simply rejected an “extreme” measure amid a housing shortage — but one that exposed deep resentment among Los Angeles residents.

“It reminds us to step carefully,” Farrell said.

Going forward, he and others said they’d more carefully scrutinize potential deals to ensure the community and the local City Council member is on board, especially for developments that need council approval.

“In part, that’s because council members themselves are likely to look closer after an uproar from some of their constituents,” said Bob Champion, a Los Angeles developer currently asking for a zoning change to build a large mixed-use complex in Hollywood that would require the demolition of rent-controlled apartments.

Champion said he agreed before the Measure S vote to allow existing tenants the option to live at his new project at Yucca Street and Argyle Avenue at their current rents. He also said that while the project is being built, he would pay the difference between tenants’ current rent and the rent at whatever temporary place they find in the area.

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