On learning that the City’s traffic consultant
Jeff Tumlin had said Santa Monica politics were
dominated by NIMBYS (Not In My Backyard), Santa
Monica Coalition for a Livable City sent a letter
to the City asking that Tumlin be dismissed (see
letter below, posted on 2/27). Many residents
In an interview with the Lookout, Tumlin, who signed on
as a City consultant in 2005, said he doesn’t believe
the term still applies,as he has “seen the discussion
about development change dramatically from residents
simply wanting to say no to development to a more
nuanced understanding of how to control development.
“There aren’t NIMBYs in Santa Monica in 2013. The debate
is no longer about stopping development but shaping it.
That, however, wasn’t the case in 2005. Then, the tone
of the debate was much starker.
“I think, in 2005, the Santa Monica residents were right
to oppose the development that they were seeing at that
time because that development was making Santa Monica
less like what citizens wanted Santa Monica to be.
“Before the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) was
adopted in 2010, the City operated with the 1984 General
Plan, which gave no clear direction about how the City
should move forward with development…For decades, Santa
Monica politics had been dominated by NIMBYs who used
traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development.
“The city’s award-winning 2011 Land Use and Circulation
Element update, however, commits to no net increase in
vehicle trips, by locating all future growth near transit,
establishing new neighborhood retail centers, imposing a
multimodal transportation impact fee, and enacting more
robust Transportation Demand Management requirements.
“I’m proud of the way the development dialogue has changed.
We tried to help (residents) realize that simply saying ‘No’
to development only slows the pace at which everything gets
worse. But saying yes to the right sort of development in
the right place with the right design and the right mitigation.
“I love working in Santa Monica largely because the passionate
debate about the City’s future. Citizens are right to be proud.”
In the eight years Tumlin has been the City’s traffic consultant,
traffic has not only not improved, it’s gotten measurably worse,
but, thanks to him, according to him, residents have improved.
We no longer say “no.” We say “yes to the right sort of develop-
ment in the right place… …yadda….yadda…yadda.”
Tumlin is clearly delusional. His assertion that residents’
position on development has moderated, thanks to his leader-
ship, is utter nonsense. 36 proposed commercial projects are
now in the pipeline, and residents are showing up at City
Council and Planning Commission hearings in record numbers
to protest both the quantity and quality of the projects.
In the same spirit, residents are increasingly impatient
with Tumlin’s inability to make even a small dent in the
congestion that’s choking our town. Now, having made no
discernible improvement in eight years, he’s proposing to
reduce traffic by reducing the number of parking spaces!
(the alleged logic: if people can’t park, they won’t drive).
We are not nimbys, and never were. We are residents attempt-
ing to make our elected representatives, our very well-paid
staff and their consultants understand that Santa Monica is
a gloriously idiosyncratic beach town that needs to be cele-
brated and preserved, not exploited and betrayed.
Time’s up, Mr.Tumlin. Go home.