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Santa Monica Slow-Growth Group Starts Online Petition to Stop Zoning Approval

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 13, 2015 -- With both sides girding for a battle, a new slow-growth advocacy group that has become a force in Santa Monica politics is calling on residents to sign an online petition protesting possible approval of the City’s proposed zoning ordinance update (ZOU) this week.

The e-petition by Residocracy, which argues the ordinance allows too much building that is too tall and too dense, went online at early last Wednesday.

 “The community’s response has been explosive,” said Armen Melkonians, founder of the online group. “Absolutely amazing.”

The issue goes before the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to draw a big crowd of those who oppose the zoning update like Residocracy and those who largely approve it.

Melkonians said he hopes the Council will delay action in order to take the petition and any other protests that might come up into consideration.

“This has been driven by special interests the whole way,” he said, “but when it comes time for the community response, they don’t have time to consider it?  If it takes a little extra time, so be it, so be it. I’m hoping they will do the right thing.”

The petition says that “simply put, it (building allowed by the ZOU) is Too Tall, Too Big, Too Much,” and that it will “change the scale and character of Santa Monica for generations to come.

“As a resident,” the petition says, “I have seen the massive developments that the LUCE (Land Use and Circulation Element) has already incentivized and the dozens more that are in the pipeline. And all of this has occurred prior to adoption of the ZOU.

“If you approve the ZOU in its current form, it will accelerate the urbanization and densification of my beach. And to this I am opposed.”

Melkonians said that in the first two days, his organization had already collected “significantly more” signatures than the approximately 13,500 collected for  halting the controversial Hines project, a 765,000 square-foot mixed-use development that Residocracy successfully  halted last year. That petition, however, had to be signed in person.

The group also plans to start collecting signatures for a referendum and an initiative that would stop the zoning update and put more development power in the community’s hands, Melkonians said. (“Residocracy to Launch Ballot Measures to Control Santa Monica Development,” March 26. 2015.)

The petition also asks residents if they would be willing to participate in a referendum or petition drive if the council ignores the Residocracy e-petition against the zoning ordinance update.    

Meanwhile, a new player in the development arena has popped up in Santa Monica. 

Santa Monica Forward has several former or current City leaders listed on the group’s website as supporters, including former Mayor Judy Abdo,  current Councilmembers Pam O’Connor, Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day, as well as former  Mayor and current Assemblyman Richard Bloom.

Some slow-growth activists view the group as pro-development. (“New activist Group Forms in Santa Monica,” March 31, 2015)


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