To the Community

As a public service, we offer this list of important facts that should be considered by all Santa Monica residents as they decide whether or not to support Proposition T.

Fact: The top 7 contributors to the No on T campaign are developers not based in Santa Monica, and the top 6 are not even from California. Those top seven have given a total of $533,622.
Source: City Clerk Campaign Disclosure Filings. Contributions thru 23 October 2008.

Fact: Proposition T has no impact on how the City prioritizes its budget expenditures, whether for police, fire, schools, or other services. The City Council sets those priorities.
Source: The Charter of the City of Santa Monica, Article XV, 1505 Budget, Further consideration and adoption.

Fact: Proposition T will not harm renters or affordable housing. “As a 32 year pro-tenant SMRR activist and leader, I can assure everyone that Prop T does no harm. In fact, SMRR is neutral on Prop T because it has no impact on renters or in the construction of new affordable housing. On the contrary, Prop T’s passage will enhance the quality of our daily lives.”
Source: Dolores Press, former chair, Santa Monica Rent Control Board and former member, steering committee, Santa Monica Renters’ Rights.

Fact: Proposition T specifically exempts residential, parking, schools, child and senior day care facilities, hospitals and other specified care facilities, places of worship, and government facilities.
Source: Proposition T text.

Fact: “By reducing rate of commercial development in Santa Monica, [Proposition T] generates ~4% fewer vehicle trips in 2023 than the baseline scenario…”
Source: Nelson/Nygaard Consultants, “RIFT Traffic Analysis”, 24 June 2008, page 23, http://www01.smgov.net/cityclerk/council/agendas/2008/20080624/s2008062403-A-2.pdf

Fact: The impartial analysis of the Santa Monica City Attorney indicates no fiscal impact of Proposition T
Source: http://www01.smgov.net/cityclerk/Election2008/Measures/Land%20Use%20-%20Measure%20T/Measure%20T-%20Impartial%20Analysis.pdf

Fact: There is no current limit to the amount of commercial development allowed in the Santa Monica.
Source: The Charter of the City of Santa Monica.

Fact: Commercial development generates ~4 times the traffic of an equivalent-sized residential development.
Source: Dennis Zane, former Santa Monica Mayor and member, steering committee, Santa Monica Renters’ Rights, speaking before the Santa Monica City Council re: LUCE in April 2007.

Fact: PTA did not take any position on Measure T.
Source: “PTA analyzed this measure for any impact – positive or negative – on education funding. Other impartial studies were conducted by the League of Women Voters and by the Santa Monica City Attorney (for the ballot pamphlet). None of these analyses found there to be a reduction in current education funding or any definitive impact on future education funding. Given that this issue is a development and land-use issue, unrelated to education, the PTA has no basis on which to either support or oppose it.” http://www.smmpta.org/pdf/PTAPosition1104.pdf

Fact: From 1980 to 2004 Santa Monica’s population was largely stable while the City’s commercial/retail, office, and industrial floor area grew 70%.
Source: League of Women Voters, http://www.lwvsantamonica.org/files/propositiont_lwvsm.pdf

Fact: Proposition T will have no negative impact on global warming as some leaders of the No on T group claim that it will.
Source: Prima facie absurdity.

Ocean Park Association
http://opa-sm.org

Dirty Tricks, Santa Monica Style

The blizzard of puffery, flummery, lies, deceptions and doubletalk that has engulfed Santa Monica voters this fall hit a new low Thursday with the appearance of a “guest column” in the Santa Monica Daily Press by Terry O’Day and Judy Abdo, the co-chairs of “Save Our City” (SOC).

The duo has spent weeks and hundreds of thousands of dollars of developers’ dough on a campaign whose sole purpose is to scare residents into voting against Proposition T, a ballot measure that would limit new commercial development to 75,000 square feet annually.

Conceived and crafted by residents who cherish this iconic beach town, Prop T is a modest and sensible measure. There is nothing scary about it – unless you are a developer with a major commercial project on your computer or a self-anointed “community leader” whose ambitious plans for the place would be trimmed.

Armed with buckets of developers’ money, O’Day and Abdo, their cadre of said “leaders” and their minions have mounted an unprecedented and shameless campaign to divide residents, and thereby maintain the status quo.

According to the anti-T propaganda, this sensible, modest measure would slash school funding, reduce city services, limit the hospitals’ ability to “provide essential health services,” endanger renters and working families, and virtually end life as we know it in Santa Monica.

Bummer!

The thing is, these alleged perils are utterly bogus. pure fantasy, conjured out of conjecture, surmises and desperation by special interests and our so-called leaders who will say anything to maintain their control of Santa Monica’s destiny.

My desk is awash in SOC propaganda, and none of it cites the bases for its extraordinary allegations. Nor does it note anywhere that the developers and the so-called leaders are the only people who would lose anything if Prop T were approved. And all they would lose is the excessive power they shouldn’t have had anyway.

The column gathers all of SOC’s previous lies, deceptions, allegations and charges into an extended narrative that suggests that a small group of malcontents is out to wreck everything for reasons unknown for everyone else.

In other words, , it’s a work of fiction, in which the real villains – O’Day and Abdo and company –are the heroes, and the real heroes – the authors of Prop T — are the villains.

O’Day and Abdo begin by righteously charging that Measure T is a deceptive, irresponsible and unnecessary measure that would not reduce traffic as promised, and may make it even worse. And Measure T threatens to harm important community services including our public schools, public safety and health care… we have formed Save Our City, a broad-based coalition that includes Santa Monica’s classroom teachers, police and firefighters associations, SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights) leaders, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, environmentalists, health care advocates, the Chamber of Commerce, nonprofit and religious leaders, and hundreds of Santa Monica residents.(see veourcitysm.com/opposes.html for full list).”

The narrative natters on, repetitiously, “The voters should not be fooled by the scare tactics and deception being used to sell Measure T.”

In fact, Prop T backers’ “scare tactics” have consisted entirely of predictions of reduced traffic and congestion, fewer mega-projects and slower, more measured growth. We have yet to encounter any resident who is frightened at the prospect of reduced traffic and measured growth.

According to the narrative, “ the only expert traffic study of T concludes that it will have virtually no impact on Santa Monica traffic”.In fact, there has been no “expert traffic study”– just theories and surmises, and wishful thinking on the part of SOC.

Abdo and O’Day then lavish praise On the “city’s new, nearly-finished General Plan update known as the LUCE..” which, they say, will do everything Prop T purports to do, and more.

In fact, LUCE may be the worst land use and circulation plan ever concocted by City Hall. It not only doesn’t solve existing problems, it creates new problems. The new Council’s first order of business should be to order the planners to start over again.

As it rolls on, the narrative becomes more and more fanciful, claiming that Prop T threatens non-profits and “encourages demolition of rent- controlled apartments and their replacement with expensive condominiums, thereby displacing renters. And T would impede the city’s strategy of building workforce housing (with resident-serving commercial uses) in its commercial zones.”

Apparently, O’Day and Abdo believe that their new best friends, the developers, would go wild if T passes, and roll their bulldozers down on the most vulnerable members of the community. Now that’s scary!

While Abdo and O’Day list “the Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, nearly every member of the school board and college board, two leading education advocacy groups (CEPS and LEAD), most council
members and many education activists” as opponents of Prop T, it fails to note that they oppose the scary, distorted SOC version of the measure, not the actual sensible, modest measure that’s on the ballot.

It also fails to note the central role of the SMRR steering committee. which includes Abdo, in the anti-T blitz. SMRR holds a majority of seats on the City Council and all the boards that oppose T, and that Council and those boards employ the classroom police and firefighters, as well appointing members of the city commissions. In that light, the alleged unanimity is merely obedience.

The narrative ends on what Abdo and O’Day see as a positive note:
“Santa Monica can and will address the challenges of controlling development and reducing traffic congestion without the severe harm threatened by T.”

City Hall has overseen the construction of over 9 million square feet of new commercial development since 1980 in this eight square mile beach town. According to its own numbers, the daily transient population of Santa Monica is now300,000, which makes it the most densely populated city in America. The City has been promising to “fix” traffic since 1996, but it gets worse every year. Further, the makers of Prop T and other residents repeatedly asked the City to take steps to control growth, and were ignored or rebuffed. Prop T was a last resort.

The City Hall/SMRR/Chamber axis wrote residents out of the script some time ago.

On November 4, residents can return the favor by voting for Prop T and against incumbent Council members Richard Bloom, Ken Genser and Herb Katz for betraying the residents they were supposed to represent, and then getting on with the preservation and refinement of this glorious, but currently beleaguered beach town we inhabit.

An Open Letter to Renters and SMRR Members About Measure AA

By Phil Hendricks

I am a 25-year member of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights who has consistently voted the straight SMRR ticket on candidates and issues. I am an 18-year employee of Santa Monica College where I served for three years as president of my union; I am a past supporter of all education bonds including raising money to promote them.

But things have changed. Few are fooled by the “education” rhetoric of AA’s promoters. We all support education as shown by our historic approval of education measures,- but Measure AA is not about education; it is another “regional center” development and expansion bond “…acquiring and/or entering into arrangements for the joint use of land, making site improvements, building infrastructure and/or constructing additional facilities thereon, for the purpose of expanding….” (From City Clerk’s full text of Ballot Measure, emphasis mine). It would bring more traffic, congestion and loss of apartments; and it has no senior exemption.

We face the worst economic crises since the Great Depression with record home foreclosures in Santa Monica, loss of jobs, loss of retirement incomes and a general decline of all economic activity. This is no time for the SMRR leadership and development promoters to further burden renters with their Measure AA. A wealthy institution that asks for $295+ million for a development and land buying scheme while it still has $100 million unspent and waiting is not concerned about renters.

There is growing disappointment in AA’s promoters who most of us had trusted for 30 years to protect school children, renters, seniors, “mom and pop” stores, and the city. Some long time SMRR member/Council Members supporting AA have reported receiving contributions from developers and builders. The AA campaign reports $346,000 in contributions as of 10/18/08 – much of it from the building and construction industry, and most all of it from outside Santa Monica and funneled through tax exempt organizations – including $100,000 through KCRW, and $50,000 through the Associated Students. Former and current SMRR Steering Committee members are now highly paid consultants and lobbyists for institutions they once identified as “the enemy”. Their endorsement and promotion of the Measure AA expansion and development plan is just one more capitulation to “out of town and out of control developers” for the benefit of themselves.

This support by our once trusted leaders for developing “regional shopping, dining, entertainment, tourist, and now education centers” has brought tens of thousands of people through Santa Monica with most of them wanting to stay. Their promotion of this overdevelopment produced economic pressures across the spectrum and gave us Costa Hawkins market rate rents that now apply to 50% of Santa Monica apartments, and still climbing; it also gave us the Ellis Act causing the ongoing loss of thousands of apartments, many of them replaced by million dollar condos that none of us can afford, while other apartments are re-rented at four times their old rents. We have seen our own “mom and pop” stores that were once a central feature of our city forced out by high rents and replaced by faceless chain stores. No one can forgive them for the traffic, congestion and destruction this brought.

The renter’s movement leadership and the elected officials that it endorsed once understood this. In their earlier days they campaigned with renters and others to stop community destroying development proposals just like AA because they and we recognized their true cost to renters, and everyone in the City; overdevelopment poisons livability – strains city services – increases traffic and congestion – undermines K-12 Unified school funding – increases demand for apartments – encourages evictions – raises rents directly.

Please join the many thousands of renters, members of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights and others who will honor our traditional community values by voting NO on AA.

Phil Hendricks, Coordinator
Bond Fatigue Committee against Measure AA BondFatigue.com
25-year SMRR member
18-year Santa Monica College Employee

Whither the Warm

By Ava Tramer

Beaches
Warm and sunny
Highs: 71-79; Lows: 55-59

Inland
Hot and sunny
Highs: 85-93; Lows: 49-53

Deserts
Really hot and sunny
Highs: 90-104; Lows: 64-68

And Santa Monica…
Again, I don’t have much to say,
Weather’s the same, day after day.
Nights are cooler, days are hot,
Brutal storms are never fought.
T-shirts, shorts, and skirts we wear,
Day in, day out, the weather’s fair.
While some may find weather a pain,
I can’t help but sometimes dream of rain!

Shriver, Rosendahl, McKeown Take Protest to Freeway

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl joined Santa Monica councilmen Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown to lead a rush hour protest at a 10 Freeway on-ramp today, in support of Prop T, a Santa Monica residents’ ballot measure designed to reduce traffic in the area.

Rosendahl held a sign reading “Honk If U Want Traffic Fixed.”

The three councilmen were joined by about 30 supporters of Prop T at the Freeway on-ramp at Cloverfield to dramatize the “disastrous” state of traffic on the Westside and the need to pass the local anti-traffic measure.

Rosendahl, whose district includes Venice, West LA and Mar Vista, got many honks of support from the slow-moving cars and trucks trying to enter the backed-up 10 Freeway.

Shriver’s sign read “Had Enough Traffic? Yes on T” and McKeown’s read “Santa Monica is Not For Sale.”

The freeway rally followed a press conference at which all three councilmen said that Santa Monica and adjacent communities were in dire need of the pause in commercial development and new traffic that Proposition T would provide.

“Whether you live in West LA, Venice or Santa Monica, residents are fed up with traffic gridlock and the increasing number of commuters forced on to our residential side streets,” said Rosendahl. “Measure T is a think out-of-the-box initiative and it will cut down on new traffic. It will improve the quality of life for our residents, both in Santa Monica and in Los Angeles.”

McKeown echoed Rosendahl’s support for Prop T, saying that Santa Monica needs a respite, adding that “Twenty years of overdevelopment has put us in the hole on traffic. When you’ve dug yourself a hole like this the first thing is to put down the shovel.”

Shriver criticized the scare tactics employed by the developer-funded campaign to defeat the resident-sponsored ballot measure. “It’s a lie that Proposition T will hurt school funding. The City Council would never cut school funding. It’s a lie that it would hurt funding for the police or fire departments. It’s obscene that the developers are pouring this kind of money in to fund these lies,”

Developers who have large projects in the works in the iconic beach town are funding what may be a record-breaking ad bIitz. It is estimated that some 98% of the No-on-T campaign contributions have come from the development industry.

Seven developers have contributed between $45,000 and $140,000 each. The current total for the No-on-T campaign is $730,000. It is expected to hit $1 million by election day, or 20 times the amount raised by ‘T’ supporters.

“When you have this kind of out-of-town developer money pouring into an election in a community this small, it’s no longer about the issues. It’s about the money. Big developers are trying to buy this election and they don’t have Santa Monica’s best interests in mind.,” said Diana Gordon, co-chair of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, which is sponsoring Prop T.

If approved by voters, Prop T will place an annual cap of 75,000 square feet on new commercial development in the city and require that any large projects above the cap go before voters for a thumbs-up or down.

The measure targets large-scale commercial development because research shows it generates the most traffic per square foot of all forms of development.

The law would expire in 15 years. More than 10,000 Santa Monica voters signed petitions to place the measure on the November ballot.