Opposes Prop T, Fears Measure Would Displace Renters
By Lookout Staff
October 1 – State Senator Sheila Kuehl, the highest-ranking
Santa Monica State official, has joined a growing number of opponents
of Prop T, saying it will not help reduce traffic.
Kuehl said the measure – which would cap most commercial
development in the beachside city at 75,000 square feet a year
for 15 years -- will encourage developers to replace rent-controlled
units with market-rate apartments and condominiums.
“Measure T could actually jeopardize the dwindling supply
of affordable housing that so many of us have worked hard over
the years to protect,” Kuehl wrote in a statement released
“Measure T would have the effect of allowing, and even
encouraging, landlords to demolish affordable apartments and displace
renters, in order to build the only unfettered development under
the Measure, thereby putting our community’s working families
and seniors at much greater risk,” Kuehl said.
The State Senator, who lives in Santa Monica, sided with opponents
who argue there is no empirical evidence to show that building
less commercial development would reduce future traffic congestion.
“I've concluded that it would not actually reduce traffic,
and is, therefore, not the answer to a real problem that requires
a real solution,” Kuehl said.
Formerly known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic
(RIFT), Prop T has been opposed by every major local group that
has taken a position on the measure.
They include all the major local public unions, as well as the
Chamber of Commerce and the School and College boards. (“Police,
Firefighters Back Council Incumbents, Oppose ‘T,’
September 19, 2008)
Two groups -- Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR)
and the Santa Monica Democratic Club -- did not take a position
at their endorsement sessions.
Last week, the Democratic Club failed to take a position when
its meeting ended before the members could take a vote. (“Dem
Club Fails to Take Stance on Prop T,” September 26, 2008)
At its August convention, SMRR voted not to make an endorsement,
although it voted to retain its usual procedures and allow its
steering committee to take a position. (“Divided
SMRR Stays Neutral on RIFT,” August 3, 2008)
The only major group to back RIFT is the LA County Democratic
Dems Back Three Council Incumbents, Challenger,” September
Joining Kuehl this week in opposing Measure T were HERE, the
hotel and restaurant workers union, and Sue Edwards, the widow
of former mayor, Ken Edwards.
In addition to arguing the measure will not fight traffic and
could reduce affordable housing, opponents also contend Prop T
will potentially curb future general fund revenues that could
be used for education and public safety. ("Prop
T Stirs Debate," September 23, 2008)
Instead, opponents argue that the proposed update to the City’s
Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) is a more effective way
to fight traffic by concentrating larger mixed-use buildings near
public transit in exchange for “community benefits.”
Supporters don’t buy the argument that Prop T will hurt
the City’s ability to provide quality services, noting that
the City’s budget is now more than half a billion dollars
and that it will likely continue to grow.
They also counter that the measure will not deplete affordable
housing because the mixed-use projects being built across the
City contain little commercial space and, consequently, would
use up little of the allocated square footage under Prop T.