Brock's Counter-Initiative Could Give Big Real Estate Investors Free Rein

May 31, 2022

Dear Editor:

Phil Brock, in his rush to seize the stage with a counter-initiative, may have abandoned his slow-growth constituency ("Brock Proposes Alternative to Mayor's "Outrageous" Transfer Tax,” May 26, 2022).

Should Phil succeed in thwarting the affordable housing petition thousands of residents have been signing, he may give big real estate investors free rein for even more building of excessive market-rate development. Pursuing the property protection agenda of non-resident downtown building owners could leave real Santa Monicans facing gentrification and a continuing crisis in housing affordability.

Unintended consequences can still be painfully real. Imagine what happens if Phil gets the Council to put his competing measure on the ballot, and it gets just one vote more than the affordable housing measure, which therefore fails even if a majority voted for it.

Tens of millions of dollars for subsidizing deed-restricted affordable housing will be lost, along with the opportunity to leverage that money with grants and tax credits. Our city will therefore almost certainly fail to meet state affordable housing mandates.

At that point, with Santa Monica in default because of Phil’s competing ballot measure, the state can penalize us by forcing an override of our local zoning. Developers will be empowered to build taller, denser, highly profitable market-rate housing, while affordability withers and gentrification floods our neighborhoods.

Is that what we want?

Kevin McKeown
Former Mayor

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