|The LookOut columns|
|What I Say|
been writing this column for four years; in fact, this is my 200th column. I started writing in 2000 just before a hot
City Council election and a Presidential election that got even hotter
in, to borrow from sports, the “post election.”
it’s déjà vu, especially with regard to City
Council (let’s hope it’s not regarding the Presidential election), as
all the winners from 2000 are running for reelection.
been a long time since a Council incumbent has lost a run for reelection
this year, incumbency itself appears to be under attack.
Some of this is the usual attack from the “loyal opposition”
against the Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) majority that’s
run the City for a long time, but there also is a more general attack,
personified by Bobby Shriver, against “a City government that has lost
sight of the reason it exists.”
who are these incumbents and exactly what do they stand for?
To help answer that question, I have prepared a spreadsheet,
a “matrix” if you will, setting forth 20 key issues of the past four
years on which the City Council members either voted or took positions.
In each case I have listed how the current City Council members
stood, along with the result.
idea is go beyond the banalities of the campaign (e.g.,
“We need to fix traffic!” or “I support education!”) and take a look
at how the different incumbents actually voted.
And as part of a survey The
Lookout is sending to all the candidates, The
Lookout will ask the non-incumbent candidates to reveal how they
would have voted on the same issues.
20 votes in the matrix are not all the important votes of the past four
years, and some of them are not even so important.
The votes themselves don’t reveal every important nuance. But I chose these issues either because they
were controversial and contested, or because they illuminate important
attitudes and ideologies.
any reader or any candidate believes I have missed a vote that illuminates
an important distinction, let me know what it is, and I’ll publish that
vote in a future column.
did not, however, include budget votes, because they tend to incorporate
a lot of issues all together, and they repeat from year to year. Instead, I will, in a future column, discuss
the budget by itself.
social policy. While there has
been a clear distinction over the living wage between SMRR council members
and the opposition, three SMRR council members provided all the opposition
is it an important “progressive” SMRR issue to set minimum wages for
poor adult workers but not to protect the teeth of their children?
same goes for education. It’s
the “conservatives” on the Council -- Herb Katz and Robert Holbrook
-- who have a perfect record of supporting education, while four SMRR
members failed to support the 2003
know that in certain circles it’s considered consistent with progressive
politics to oppose jobs and housing and mixed-use development in favor
of the comfort of thems-thats-already-got, but four SMRR council members
vote against good smart-growth type developments with absolute or at
least fair consistency.
Bloom and Kevin McKeown voted against Target, not to certify the Boulangerie
EIR, against Lantana (in 2002), and in favor of lowering the downtown
development threshold; Feinstein and Ken Genser voted anti-jobs/housing/smart
growth on three out of the four issues.
inconsistency is not only a SMRR thing.
If you are a pro-business Chamber of Commerce type, what do you
make of both Katz and Holbrook not voting for Target?
I said, draw your own conclusions, but I don’t see how the SMRR tag
makes anyone a liberal saint.
would be interested to hear from any reader who agrees with any incumbent
candidate 100 percent of the time (and who is not related by blood or
marriage). Otherwise, in evaluating the incumbents, which
will be the first step many of us take in deciding
how to vote, it’s a matter of weighing the votes we like against those
we don’t, and whether there are certain votes that are absolute deal-makers
during an election, the wheels of government grind on, and next week
the City Council will hear proposals to change the zoning relevant to
is an important issue. Although
the same time, the low-density development along our boulevards, featuring
many parking lots both along the street and behind the dealerships,
abutting residential areas, contribute little to the cityscape.
the dealers need is the right to build up and to dig down, to provide
for more parking, vehicle storage, and other facilities in enclosed
structures. These structures will then better insulate neighbors
from dealership operations. With
good planning, they might also provide a better streetscape for the
several years the dealers have been discussing plans with planning staff
along these lines, and although they did not reach agreement on all
points, it’s a pleasure to report that when the Planning Commission
reviewed these ideas earlier in the year, the Commission “got it” and
made a series of good recommendations to the City Council.
some cases, the Commission went further than staff.
For instance, there is an issue of what to do with residentially
zoned lots adjacent to dealerships that are now parking lots. Staff does not want to allow dealerships to
build structures on these lots, so as not to set an anti-housing precedent.
realistically, and as the Commission understood it, these lots will
never be used for housing. A
better approach would be to allow the dealerships to build on the lots,
better insulating the existing neighbors, but then, in the context of
the update to the land use element of the general plan, make up for
the loss in residential zoning by encouraging “boulevard housing” in
commercial zones along our east-west corridors.
you like to help design a park? The
City has a new small park site at
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.