Community Groups and Labor Join Legal Fight to Defend Measure ULA
Measure ULA is the largest affordable housing ballot initiative passed in Los Angeles history. It was drafted and led by the United to House LA coalition and passed in November 2022 with overwhelming support from nearly 58% of L.A. voters. The measure will generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually via a one-time real estate transfer tax on sales of properties over $5 million. These funds will go toward programs that provide financial assistance to low-income seniors, rental assistance for tenants, the purchase of apartments and hotels for affordable housing, the construction of new affordable housing using both established and innovative models, and legal assistance for tenants threatened with eviction.
In December 2022, two special interest groups – the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) – filed a lawsuit challenging the measure in court. Their lawsuit names the City of Los Angeles as a defendant as well as “all persons interested in the matter of Measure ULA.” In January 2023, Newcastle Courtyards LLC and the Mani Benabou Family Trust filed additional challenges in state and federal court. Their state action was consolidated with the Howard Jarvis and AAGLA lawsuit.
In February 2023, community groups, affordable housing providers, and organized labor joined the legal fight to defend Measure ULA against the lawsuit. Public Counsel and Irell & Manella LLP represent the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015, who were deeply involved in the development of Measure ULA and represent constituencies that would benefit from the measure’s programs.
On September 5, 2023, federal district court Judge John Kronstadt dismissed the federal challenge filed by Newcastle Courtyards and the Mani Benabou Family Trust. Judge Kronstadt determined that the federal court lacked jurisdiction under the Tax Injunction Act and thus dismissed the challenge. With this ruling, the court threw out one challenge to the will of the City’s voters.
On October 24, 2023, state superior court Judge Barbara Scheper granted the Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Public Counsel and Irell and the City of Los Angeles, dismissing both remaining state challenges with prejudice. Judge Scheper specifically found that the plaintiffs’ complaints “fail to state facts sufficient to support any claim against any Defendant.”
Superior Court of The State of California, County of Los Angeles
Dismissed with prejudice
2/15/2023 (Answer filed to join lawsuit)
Case Developments and Key Developments
Cases Dismissed with Prejudice
Judge Barbara Scheper granted the defendants’ Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings, dismissing all of the state court claims with prejudice and finding that the plaintiffs’ complaints “fail to state facts sufficient to support any claim against any Defendant.”
Motions for Judgment on Pleadings
- Defendant City Of LA’ Memorandum of Points and Authorities In Support of Motion for Judgment
- Defendant City Of LA’ Notice and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Defendants SCANPH, KIWA, SEIU 2015’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Defendants SCANPH, KIWA, SEIU 2015’s Memorandum of Points and Authorities
- Plaintiffs’ Notice Of Cross-Motion and Cross-Motion For Judgment on the Pleadings
- Amended Joinder of Newcastle Plaintiffsto Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Amended Opposition of Newcastle Plaintiffs to Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Vol II)
- Amended Opposition of Newcastle Plaintiffs to Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Vol I)
- City of LA’ Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Plaintiffs’ Combined Cross-Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings
- Defendants SCANPH, KIWA, SEIU2015’s Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings
- Defendants SCANPH, KIWA, SEIU 2015’s Notice Of Errata to Reply to HJTA Opposition
- Defendants SCANPH, KIWA, SEIU 2015’s Notice Of Errata to Reply to Newcastle Opposition
- City of LA’ Reply to HJTA Opposition and to Newcastle Plaintiffs Amended Joinder
- City of LA’ Reply to Newcastle Plaintiffs Opposition; Joinder in Interested Persons’ Reply
- Plaintiffs’ Combined Reply to Cross-Oppositions to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- City of LA’ Request for Judicial Notice in Support of Reply to Newcastle Plaintiffs Opposition
All Persons Interested Answer Filed
Community groups, affordable housing providers, and organized labor joined the legal fight to defend Measure ULA against the lawsuit. The groups joined the lawsuit as original backers and advocates for the measure.
Newcastle Plaintiffs File Complaint
Howard Jarvis & AAGLA File Complaint
Two special interest groups – the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) – filed a lawsuit challenging the popular Measure ULA in court.
Founded in 1992, KIWA builds power with immigrant workers and renters to bring about a more just and inclusive Los Angeles. One of the nation’s most established worker centers, KIWA organizes primarily Korean and Latino immigrant workers, with a focus on the restaurant and retail industries. KIWA aligns strategic worker and community organizing with policy change, leadership development, research, services, and coalition-building. Because of their immense impact on workers’ lives, KIWA also works in the areas of civic justice, economic policy, immigration, housing and transit policy, and land-use reform.
The Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH) is a trade association, founded in 1985, that supports and advocates for those dedicated to the development of affordable housing. SCANPH’s advocacy efforts have contributed greatly toward assisting the financially vulnerable in our communities since 1985. The mission of SCANPH is to facilitate development of affordable homes across southern California by advancing effective public policies, sustainable financial resources, strong member organizations, and beneficial partnerships.
SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California, representing nearly 450,000 long-term care workers (home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers) throughout the state. Its members are as diverse as the state’s population, but united in their commitment to caring for California’s most vulnerable: seniors and the disabled.
The United to House LA Coalition consists of over 240 groups to support the implementation of Measure ULA for affordable housing & to keep people housed.
For more than 80 years, Irell & Manella LLP has helped clients resolve their most challenging and complex legal issues. Irell is known for its extraordinary track record of successful outcomes as well as the genuine creativity brought to high-stakes litigation. The firm’s success is rooted in its unflagging commitment to quality and client service.
- Federal Judge Rules to Dismiss Challenge Against Measure ULA, 9/6/2023
- Community Groups and Labor Join Legal Fight to Defend Measure ULA, 2/15/2023
- LA Times, ‘Mansion tax’ prevails in court as judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Measure ULA, 10/25/23
- The Real Deal, Judge formalizes dismissal of Measure ULA challenges, 10/25/23
- Westside Today, Court Rejects Challenges to Controversial Measure In Contentious Lawsuit, 10/24/23
- The Real Deal, Judge’s tentative ruling rejects all challenges to ULA transfer tax, 10/23/23
- Globest, Federal Judge Dismisses Challenge to Measure ULA, 9/11/2023
- The Real Deal, Measure ULA lawsuit rejected by federal judge, 9/7/2023
- LA Daily News, LA City Council OKs spending $150M, raised via Measure ULA, to help tenants, 8/29/23
- LA Times, As challenges loom, L.A. City Council approves $150 million in ‘mansion tax’ spending, 8/29/23
- LA Daily News, LA panel advances Measure ULA spending plan to protect tenants, 8/3/2023
- The Real Deal, Judge combines two lawsuits challenging Measure ULA, 4/27/2023
- LAist, New Tax Money Meant To Help LA’s Unhoused Is Stuck In Legal Limbo, 4/5/2023
- LA Times, Editorial: Get the fight over the L.A. mansion tax settled fast. We need the money, 1/6/2023
- LA Times, Howard Jarvis group, apartment owners sue to block L.A.’s new housing tax, 12/23/22