Santa Monica Lookout
|Opponents of Santa Monica Slow-Growth Initiative Warn of “Unintended Consequences”||
By Niki Cervantes
July 26, 2016 -- A new report issued by a group anchored by big names in Santa Monica’s political establishment contends a slow-growth measure on the November 8 ballot will usher in “unintended consequences” in the battle over future development.
Santa Monica Forward’s report says that the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative -- which requires a public vote on most developments taller than 32 feet -- does not exempt public buildings, such as fire and police facilities; religious institutions; nonprofits, schools and buildings damaged by fires or earthquakes.
“LUVE is an extreme no-growth measure that goes too far and will result in unintended consequences,” the 34-page report issued Monday concludes.
“LUVE will not stop development in Santa Monica, but it will create a host of problems and difficulties that Santa Monica residents will be forced to deal with for the next twenty years and beyond,” the report states.
Leaders of Residocracy, the slow-growth grassroots group behind the LUVE initiative, slammed the report as a “propaganda hit piece.”
“It's nothing more than fear-mongering based on fiction not fact, dressed to appear like a credible study,” said Tricia Crane, who co-authored LUVE and is also on the board of Residocracy.
“These are scare tactics being advanced by a handful of hired shills for developers and City Hall power brokers who are afraid of the LUVE Initiative,” she said. “Clearly they are afraid LUVE will win. And it will, no matter how well funded the opposition is.”
Under LUVE, the Council retains its current authority to vote on projects taller than the initiative allows, but an approval would trigger a public vote.
LUVE was inspired by fears that the Council -- including its slow-growth majority -- is approving too many plans for tall and expansive buildings, eroding the city’s seaside charm.
Critics like Santa Monica Forward and the Council say LUVE is too strict and will stall efforts to address the city's housing shortage, especially for lower-income-earners City officials fear are being displaced.
The initiative is the most controversial local issue before voters in November and will likely be the target of an opposition largely funded by developers.
LUVE will likely also be a litmus test for candidates running for City Council.
All four incumbents -- Councilmembers Terry O’Day, Ted Winterer and Gleam Davis, and Mayor Tony Vazquez -- are seeking re-election. Among the challengers is Armen Melkonians, who founded Residocracy and co-wrote LUVE.
Santa Monica Forward -- which includes the city's civic, business and political leaders -- was established to counter the slow-growth movement supported by the city's neighborhood groups.
Among Santa Monica Forward's members are former Santa Monica Mayor Judy Abdo and current Council Members Pam O’Connor, Davis and O’Day.
Abdo is a co-chair for Forward, which in April developed an “issues committee” specifically targeting LUVE, the group’s report said.
The report draws on a City analysis -- also highly critical of LUVE -- that was presented to the City Council on July 12. In that analysis, City staff worried about LUVE’s "untested new provisions" and the same potential impacts raised by Santa Monica Forward.
Forward’s report focuses in part on LUVE’s exemption for housing projects that are 100 percent affordable and have 50 or fewer units. It says such projects are “virtually impossible to fund in today’s market and the initiative provides no provision for financing them.”
Melkonians and LUVE supporters counter that the City is already doing more than its share of building affordable housing compared to the rest of Los Angeles County.
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