Santa Monica Lookout
|Online House Tour Video Kicks Off Santa Monica Election Season||
By Niki Cervantes
July 21, 2016 -- A day after Santa Monica’s election season officially kicked off, an online video showcasing a mansion for sale that features the creator of a slow-growth ballot initiative suddenly started making the rounds.
The YouTube video is hosted by Armen Melkonian, the co-creator of the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative who on Monday pulled nomination papers to run in November for a seat on the City Council.
The three-minute video offers a quick tour of a Bel Air mansion he once called home and wanted to sell.
Melkonians, who founded Residocracy, the grassroots group behind LUVE, said Wednesday he was surprised to learn of the video's re-emergence and was displeased.
City Manager "Rick Cole told me not to get nasty during the election when I was talking to him once," Melkonians said. "I told him it was the other side he had to worry about.”
The mansion’s political relevance is never stated in the video, but Melkonians said he thinks it’s being used as “some sort of personal attack” due to LUVE, his possible run for council or both.
“It’s a single-family home, not the 500 apartments the City keeps trying to build and that LUVE is trying to deal with,” he said of the mansion in the video.
If approved in November, LUVE would require a public vote on building projects taller than two floors. Among its exemptions are 100-percent affordable housing developments and single-family dwellings.
In the three-minute video uploaded in 2009, Melkonian gives viewers a look at the nearly 8,000-square-foot contemporary Italian-style “villa” he says he and his then-fiancée designed, built, lived in and later wanted to sell.
It included six bedrooms, seven-and-a-half bathrooms and an interior “Romeo and Juliet” balcony.
Melkonians, a civil and environmental engineer, then moved to Santa Monica’s Wilmont neighborhood, where he has lived with his current wife and children for about six years, he said.
In a city already known for its development wars, LUVE has unleashed a heated election battle that started before LUVE qualified for the ballot in May ("Santa Monica LUVE Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot," June 1, 2016).
Melkonians ran for Council in 2012 and finished eleventh in a field of 15 candidates with 3,958 votes.
LUVE and Residocracy have boosted his name recognition in the current council race, which had drawn ten candidates as of Wednesday night, including three of the four incumbents -- Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis and Tony Vazquez, the current mayor.
Council member Ted Winterer has formed a campaign committee but has not pulled papers.
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