OF, BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE NOW AND FOREVER

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrShare

On Wednesday, November 19, the Santa Monica Planning Commission held a Town Hall Meeting at Lincoln Middle School starting at 7:00 PM to hear comments by residents
on the Zoning Ordinance. The following is the speech given there
by Ellen Brennan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Planning Commissioners:

My sincere thanks to you for providing us this opportunity to speak. It’s late
and you’ve sat there all evening so we could be heard. Thank you.

Well, we now have the attorneys’ and their developer clients’ dream book. It’s 4 inches thick. It’s our Zoning Ordinace. And now it’s time to dissect it.

I’d like to start by referring to a piece of U.S. history, dear to those of us who grew up in this country. It’s an address given by our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, on the battlefield at Gettysburg, one of the worst battles of the Civil War. It’s become a classic. It ends thus: “That this nation, under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Notice he did NOT say, government of the attorneys, for the attorneys, and by the attorneys. He did NOT say, government of the developers, by the developers, and for the developers. However, up till the early part of this year, that’s what we’ve had in Santa Monica. There was no government of the people and by the people in Santa Monica. The Planning staff would steam roll over us and the majority on the council would rubber stamp any development that passed their way. We could stand at the microphone 100 deep (I remember the night I was speaker 104 out of 109) and we were totally ignored.

Then Armen Melkonians developed his website, Residocracy, and everything changed.

The Hines project was approved, by the City Council, promising to bring 7000 more cars a day to the most gridlocked part of Santa Monica.

Residocracy members took to the streets to collect 6500 signatures in 30 days. Instead we collected 13,500 verified signatures in 19 days. and the Hines project was stopped. We put the development community into shock and the energy of collaborating to stop development continues to grow.

Later in the year, when our Airport Commission came up with 3 things the city could do to stop the jets and fight schools from flying over our homes and schools, bringing us noise and danger and polluted air, the City council approved the suggestions. The Pilots Union out of Washington D.C. decided to flex their muscles. They filed an initiative and attempted a hostile take over of our airport, intending to force our city government to run it to suit them.

The people in Santa Monica, led by John Fairweather, Zina Josephs, Neil Carrey, and many, many others in a cluster of groups came together to defeat AOPA. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association came. They put on a memorable campaign of lies and deceit. They spent over a million dollars. Members flew in to go to our polls to persuade us to vote their way. And when the dust cleared, they had lost 40% to 60%. So when we tell you this zoning ordinance, dream of the developers, will not stand, you better believe that we mean it. And in this last year we’ve learned how to make such statements stick.

I suggest you get rid of tier 3 on all the boulevards. After listening to Ron Goldman tell us how unbelievably many one and two story buildings exist on the boulevards, it’s clear that tier 3 is no longer appropriate or needed on the boulevards. By adding stories to low buildings we can pick up all the housing we need along the boulevards.

Make sure that Wilshire Blvd is no higher and no denser than

Santa Monica Boulevard. There’s no excuse for higher, or denser buildings on Wilshire. That boulevard is bordered by neighborhoods whose residents deserve to have their life style preserved and their homes saved from overshadowing by huge buildings and the traffic they bring.

Get rid of the Activity centers. These were intended to be built at the subway stations. But the Subway has been cancelled. There is now no possible excuse for building higher, taller buildings at Wilshire and 26th or Wilshire and Centinela. Just get rid of these. The impact on neighborhoods and on traffic outweighs any rationale developers can think up.

Eliminate all opportunity sites. Everybody knows the Opportunity sites were never in the LUCE, but because of the tyranny of the process and the fact that residents never get to answer staff or question staff, this myth has perpetrated itself even though everybody knows its untrue. There’s no reason to allow any developer to penetrate a height limit, destroy our skyline, rob us of sun and sky.

Now lets talk about A-lots. They are overlay zones placed over the large boulevard parking lots to insure that when the lot changes purpose and the parking lot is not needed, the A-lots are to revert to Residential zoning. This is the law on the books now.

However, it’s been discovered by Amy Aukstikanis, chair of Northeast Neighbors, that someone (currently unnamed) in the Planning Department, in preparing the LUCE maps, changed all 33 of the A-lots to commercial zoning – without a change in the ordinance, no vote or discussion by council, no public discussion, and no notification of any kind. And now that it’s been discovered, the fight is to get all those 33 lots changed back to the legal designation – residential. We ask you Planning Commission members to pay particular attention to A-lots to be sure they are rezoned to residential. This makes a big difference. These lots were intended to be buffer lots between development and neighborhoods and fulfill the important promise of the LUCE to preserve neighborhoods, and their way of life.

Please notice that Abraham Lincoln did not say at Gettysburg that government “to protect and enhance the City’s fiscal health” should not perish. It’s likely that some of you don’t even know this phrase is in this document. That phrase needs to be taken out of this document. Someone in this town went seriously off the rails when they thought they could highjack this zoning ordinance for the benefit of the City with a capital C. – shorthand for City Hall. That phrase is a perversion of the democratic process. Just take that phrase out. It’s listed under Chapter 9.01 Title, Purpose, Authority. 9.01.020 Purpose L, M, N, O, P are added in red

(N. To protect and enhance the City’s fiscal health.) It is on page I-4

Kindly remove this phrase. There’s no way the city’s fiscal health should be placed above the general welfare of the people of Santa Monica.

This document shall be for the benefit of the people who live in Santa Monica. And in case you think that’s a joke, we remind you that twice in one year the people of Santa Monica have confronted an entity that did not respect our way of life. and twice – WE WON.

Against all odds, government of the people, by the people, and for the people is returning to Santa Monica.

THE TOWN HALL MEETING THAT WASN’T A MEETING

I’ve been to more meetings, and more kinds of meetings than I can count — in
places I’ve lived, and places I’ve covered as a journalist – school board meet-
ings, City Council meetings, political meetings all kinds of meetings – but the
Town Hall meeting Wednesday night at Lincoln Middle School was, by any measure,
the oddest meeting I’ve ever attended.

Its purported purpose was to give residents an opportunity to tell the Planning Commissioners what they thought of the draft revised zoning code that both the
staff and the Commission has been working on for some time. The Commission meet-
ings that were devoted to the code were well-attended by residents, who found
more and more flaws in the revision, as the work proceeded. Many of their comp-
laints dealt with the City planners’ apparently deliberate efforts to exclude residents from the process, because their priorities were at odds with the City’s priorities.

An amalgam of information from Friends of Sunset Park, Northeast Neighbors, and
Mid-City Neighbors summed up the events that led up to the meeting. “After more than a year of advocating to stop large traffic-generating development projects in our city, residents still need to have their voices heard regarding the city’s Zoning Ordinance Update. Developers and land use attorneys are advocating for zoning ordinance changes that will allow them to maximize the size of their projects and profits, while increasing the traffic congestion that is choking both residential and business districts in Santa Monica.

“The Zoning Ordinance Update – currently in a “redline” form to show proposed changes – will spell out what can be built in our city for decades. The redline
lacks many protections for residents that the current Zoning Ordinance provides. That’s why this Town Hall meeting and your input at this point is important. Wed- nesday night’s Town Hall will be more relaxed than Planning Commission meetings. Speakers can comment at the microphone without time limits.

“Possible talking points

“1) Remove the ZOU Chapter 9.40 exemption from Development Permit Review requir-ements for 100% Affordable Housing Projects of 50 units or less. Many Sunset Park residents oppose CCSM projects being built in our neighborhood with no public hear-
ing regarding the design, other than at the Architectural Review Board, with no process for appeal, and with no public hearing regarding the funding. Examples:
2802 Pico; 2400 block of Centinela (south of Pico)

“2) Eliminate ‘Activity Center’ sites, such as the one proposed at Lincoln and
Ocean Park Blvd. (on the Albertson’s site), as they would be out-of-scale and
result in additional traffic congestion.

“3) Make lot consolidation rare in residential neighborhoods, to maintain resi-
dential scale and character, and to preserve courtyard apartments and condos.

“4) Maintain current Floor Area Ratio (FAR) limits on Lincoln Blvd. south of the
I-10 freeway. The current C4 zoning calls for an FAR of 1.0 and includes a ‘red-
uctive’ FAR, i.e., as the site area increases, the allowed FAR decreases. The proposed General Commercial (GC) zoning for Lincoln south of the freeway allows
up to an FAR of 2.0, i.e., a potential 1 00% increase in density.

“5) Encourage adaptive reuse of both commercial and residential buildings.

“6) Prevent traffic-generating over-development on the boulevards – Density and height should be limited by the removal of Tier 3.

“7) Eliminate so-called ‘Opportunity Sites’ in the downtown area that exceed zon-
ing height, massing and density standards.

“8) Ensure adequate parking for customers and employees to prevent spillover into residential neighborhoods – Parking standards must be set to protect neighborhoods, as promised in the LUCE.

“9) Create human scale buildings to prevent mega-development by prohibiting the consolidation of parcels throughout the city – This will increase the number of neighborhood serving businesses and improve the pedestrian experience, as planned
in the standards being advanced in the Zoning for Main Street.

“10) Maintain Planning Commission authority over new development by removing proposals for increased ‘administrative approval’ – This will give too much power
to staff, prevent public accoun-tability, and end any appeals process.”

“11) Prevent changes to residential lot designations throughout the city – These parcels serve as important buffers between homes and commercial boulevards.

“12) Remove from the new Zoning ‘Purpose; language that calls for regulations to ‘enhance the City’s fiscal health’ – Regulations should focus on enhancing the quality of life for residents.

“13) Preserve open, green space – Zoning should not allow developers to buy their
way out of providing open, accessible, green space in each project by paying ‘in lieu’ fees.”

“Background:
“At a recent public meeting, developers persuaded the Planning Commission to NOT include in the Zoning Update important issues that residents have advocated for,
and that staff and the Planning Commission had previously supported, such as remov-
ing Activity Centers from Wilshire Blvd.

“ This is why the Commission needs to hear and receive written comments for the record from residents now and continuing through the City Council approval pro-
cess of the final Zoning Ordinance document.”
************
By the time the meeting began, several hundred residents had gathered in the auditorium. Six of the seven Planning Commissioners sat at a table in front of
the stage. A billboard-size sheet of paper had been set on the stage behind them.
If there were any members of the City’s planning staff or other City official present, I didn’t see them. Chair of the Commission Jason Perry presided.

Some residents delivered written comments to the Commissioners’ table. Other residents lined up behind the two microphones to speak. Many of them spoke of
the items on the FOSP list. Others raised other issues. The audience gave stand-
ing ovations to many speakers. They were very angry. They found the notion of developments “enhancing the city’s fiscal health” particularly obscene —
hooting derisively, cheering the speakers who criticized it.

Some of the speakers were nearly quivering with rage. Others were cool, but equal-
ly critical. And others were eloquent. But, no matter what their demeanor, the speakers were virtually all opposed to the City’s effort to exclude them and
some of their most valued portions of the revision.

The crowd slowly diminished, but the speakers kept lining up at the microphones,
and some of Planning Commissioners kept taking notes until after midnight when
the last speaker finished. The others just fidgeted.

The meeting had been touted by the City as an opportunity for the residents to
talk with the Commissioners, but, in fact, the City planners had residents’ comm-
ents noted – in a word or phrase – on the big white board – but that was the ex-
tent of the “conversation.” In sum. the City planners had planned a meeting that
wasn’t actually a meeting at all.

LATEST ELECTION RESULTS: 11/18/14

SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL (3)

Kevin McKeown 9,829
Sue Himmelrich 8,974
Pam O’Connor 6,443

Phil Brock 5,664
Frank Gruber 5,037
Jennifer Kennedy 4,862
Richard McKinnon 4,748
Michael Feinstein 3,577
Terence Later 1,818
Jerry Rubin 1,562
Jon Mann 1,523
Nick Boles 1,258
Whitney Scott Bain 1,254
Zoe Muntaner 752

VOTER REGISTRATION 58,803

LATEST UPDATE 11/18/14

SANTA MONICA COLLEGE TRUSTEES (4)

Nancy Greenstein 14,084
Louise Jaffe 13,927
Barry A. Snell 11,363
Andrew Walzer 10,690

Dennis C.W. Frisch 9.796
Maria Loya 8,851

SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED
SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION (4)

Laurie Lieberman 14,687
R. Tahvildaran-Jesswein 11,856
Craig Foster 11,648
Oscar De La Torre 11,527

Ralph Mechur 11,122
Dhum May 4.935
Patty Finer 4,933

SANTA MONICA FIRE DEPT. RESPONDS TO STRUCTURE FIRE ON LA MESA

On Tuesday, November 18, at 11:29 am, the Santa Monica Fire Department respond-
ed to a reported fire in a house under major renovation at 2311 La Mesa Dr. The
first fire unit to arrive on scene reported light smoke from the roof and no
fire from the interior of the second floor, suggesting a possible attic fire.

The first companies that arrived assisted with an aggressive interior attack of
the attic fire and initiated vertical ventilation from the roof. Due to the roof construction and size of the structure, a second alarm was quickly called. The additional companies were assigned the task of salvage and overhaul operations to minimize water damage and assure that the fire was completely extinguished. The
fire was contained to the attic with “knock-down” declared at 11:59 a.m.

A total of 35 firefighters was on scene with an additional five Americare Ambul-
ance personnel. The Los Angeles City Fire Department Engine 59 and Rescue Ambul-
ance 59 assisted SMFD during the incident by providing city coverage.

Two construction workers were treated for smoke inhalation and released from the scene.

Initial investigation reveals that the fire started in the attic above a second floor closet where workers had been welding steel support members.

MID-CITY NEIGHBORS’ NOTES FOR TONIGHT’S TOWN HALL MEETING

1. Prevent traffic-generating over-development on the boulevards – Density
and height should be limited by the removal of Tier 3.

2. Eliminate so called Opportunity Sites that exceed zoning height, mass-
ing and density standards.

3. Eliminate “Activity Center” sites throughout the city on major blvds such
as the one proposed in Mid City that would cover the area contained by Clover-
field to 20th, and Broadway to Colorado.

4. Ensure adequate parking for customers and employees to prevent spillover
into residential neighborhoods – Parking standards must be set to protect neighborhoods, as promised in the LUCE.

5. Make lot consolidation rare in neighborhoods to maintain residential scale
and character, to preserve courtyard apartments and condos.

6. Encourage adaptive reuse of both commercial and residential .

7. Maintain Planning Commission authority over new development by removing prop-
osals for increased “administrative approval” – This will give too much power to staff, prevent public accountability, and end any appeals process.buildings.

8. Create human scale buildings to prevent mega-development by prohibiting the consolidation of parcels throughout the city – This will increase the number of neighborhood serving businesses and improve the pedestrian experience, as plan-
ned in the standards

9. Prevent changes to residential lot designations throughout the city – These parcels serve as important buffers between homes and commercial boulevards.being advanced in the Zoning for Main Street.

9. Prevent changes to residential lot designations throughout the city – These parcels serve as important buffers between homes and commercial boulevards.

10. Preserve open, green space – Zoning should not allow developers to buy their
way out of providing open, accessible, green space in each project by paying “in lieu” fees.

After more than a year of advocating to stop large traffic-generating development projects in our city, residents still need to have their voices heard regarding
the city’s Zoning Ordinance

Update. Developers and land use attorneys are advocating for zoning ordinance
changes that will allow them to maximize the size of their projects and profits, while increasing the traffic congestion that is choking both residential and bus-
iness districts in Santa Monica.

You can also email the City Council, which will be adopting the Zoning Ordinance Update, after the Planning Commission makes its final recommendations, at Council@smgov.net

And you can email the Planning Commissioners at these addresses, but your comments won’t automatically become part of the public record: jenniferfkennedy@gmail.com, richard@richardmckinnon.com, parryplan@gmail.com, GNewbold@gmail.com,Jim_Ries@hotmail.com,andersonsmpc@yahoo.com,SHimmelr@hotmail.com,

The Zoning Ordinance Update – currently in a proposed “redline” form to show pro-
posed changes – will spell out what can be built in our city for decades. The red-
line lacks many protections for residents that the current Zoning Ordinance provides. That’s why this Town Hall meeting and your input at this point is important.

Wednesday night’s Town Hall will be more relaxed than Planning Commission meetings. Speakers can comment at the microphone without time limits.

Background:

At a recent public meeting, developers persuaded the Planning Commission to NOT include in the Zoning Update important issues that residents have advocated for,
and that staff and the Planning Commission had previously supported, such as
removing Activity Centers from Wilshire Blvd.

This is why the Commission needs to hear and receive written comments for the re-
cord from residents now and continuing through the City Council approval process
of the final Zoning Ordinance document. The “redline” version is available on the
City website: http://www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/
1. Full Redline Document (hundreds of pages long) shows what is now in the Zoning and what could be removed or added:

http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/PCD/Zoning/Redline%20Public%20Review%20Draft%20(Oct%202014).pdf

2. Comments document contains public comments that have already been recorded thus far. You may find your comments recorded here if you attended any of the Zoning Update meetings or sent emails to the Planning Commission for the public record:

http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/PCD/Zoning/Public%20Correspondence%20Chart%20(Oct%202014).pdf

3. Cross Reference Chart between existing Zoning and proposed Zoning.

http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/PCD/Three documents are included
and available for review::

VIGIL TO BE HELD HERE WHEN FERGUSON GRAND JURY VERDICT IS ANNOUNCED

WHO: Committee for Racial Justice, NAACP, Universalist Unitarian Church, African American Staff, Student, Parent Support Group, Pico Youth and Family Center and
the Church in Ocean Park

WHAT: Join us for a vigil after the grand jury in Ferguson reports out its decis-
ion.

WHERE: Santa Monica City Hall

WHEN: We will gather with candles at 5pm on the evening of the announcement unless the announcement comes after 5pm and then we’ll gather on the next evening at 5pm.

SPEAKERS, MUSIC, and SOLIDARITY ACTIONS

We’ll issue an email blast as soon as we hear that there’s been a judgment.

ATTIC FIRE IN LA MESA HOUSE IS CONTAINED BY SMFD

Four Santa Monica Fire Department engines and a truck responded to a fire in
the attic of a house on La Mesa Drive in the northeast corner of Santa Monica
on Tuesday morning.

The house is being renovated, and sparks from a welder ignited the fire, which firefighters contained to the attic.

CHASING A RUMOR

An extraordinary rumor is going around town. Though the Dispatch is not in the
habit of publishing rumors, this one’s very existence says something about the
state of mind of the community.

We heard it from someone who’d heard it from someone else a couple of days ago.
We heard it again today. .

Mayor Pam O’Connor received enough votes to keep her Council seat, but, under
the law, a new mayor will be named by the new Council. Allegedly, O’Connor has
proposed to her Council colleagues, Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day, that the three
of them back Council member Tony Vazquez for mayor, and thus hold onto to their majority.

By making Vazquez mayor, O’Connor could not only fracture the Council’s first
true “slow growth” majority, but keep her long-running promise that as long as
she’s around, Councilman Kevin McKeown will never be mayor.

We tried, but failed to reach Vazquez, so we don’t know whether he has heard the rumor, much less whether he would be interested in taking part in O’Connor’s lat-
est plot, but we doubt it.

In fact, Vazquez, McKeown, Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich, who has won a
seat on the Council with a very substantial vote, and Ted Winterer will comp-
rise the first authentic “slow growth” majority we’ve ever had.

Excessive growth has been a major issue in Santa Monica for several years, and
it dominated the recent election.Council members McKeown, Vazquez and Winterer
had consistently opposed the surging growth, but were regularly out-voted by O’Connor, Davis, O’Day, and Bob Holbrook, who’s retiring this year. They all reg-
ularly took campaign contributions from developers, and approved their projects.

Now the Council slow growth majority that residents have long sought is about to be sworn in. They don’t take campaign contributions from developers and they listen to residents.

It’s clearly time for O’Connor to find a hobby – preferably something that doesn’t involve the destiny of a gloriously idiosyncratic beach town.

SM DEMOCRATIC CLUB MEETING ON WEDNESDAY IS CANCELLED

The meeting topic, “Election Aftermath: Where to From Here” is important to
all of us and will be re-scheduled.

The Executive Board suggests that members attend the Planning Commission
Town Hall Meeting on November 19, where comments will be heard on the Redline
Public Review Draft Zoning Ordinance Update.

The Town Hall starts at 7:00 pm at Lincoln Middle School Auditorium, 1501
California Avenue.

The Redline Draft Zoning Ordinance can be viewed at www.smgov.net/planning

HEREWITH, THE LATEST SMMUSD, SMC AND COUNTY SUPERVISOR ELECTION RESULTS

County Supervisor, 3rd District: Sheila Kuehl 140,056, Bobby Shriver, 124,387

Santa Monica College Trustees (4), Nancy Greenstein 13,761, Jean Jaffe
13,628, Barry Snell 11,709, Andrew Walzer 10,453

Dennis Frisch 9,538 Maria Loya 8,589

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (4) Laurie Lieberman 14,361
R. Tahvilderan Jessvein 11,615 Craig Foster 11,409, Oscar de la Torre 11,224

Ralph Mechur 10.358 Patty Viner 4,798, Dhun May 4,794.