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Slow Growth Group Endorses One Council Candidate
By Jorge Casuso
September 18, 2018 -- One of Santa Monica's two slow growth groups this week endorsed a single City Council candidate and a ballot measure to impose term limits on Santa Monica's governing body.
The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City is backing only incumbent Sue Himmelrich in the race for three Council seats, the group announced Tuesday.
It is the first time the Coalition does not back incumbent Kevin McKeown, who was endorsed by the group in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
In an unexpected move this week, the pro-growth group Santa Monica Forward endorsed McKeown ("Santa Monica Forward Endorses Two Incumbents, Challenger," September 17, 2018).
"Councilmember Himmelrich shares our reasonable growth and transparent government goals and actions," the Coalition wrote in a statement announcing its endorsement.
"She has been a strong voice for residents on the Council to hold developers accountable for the impacts their projects would have on the livability of our city."
The Coalition pointed to Himmelrich's opposition to three major Downtown mixed-use hotel projects the council is expected to vote on as early as next year.
The group also noted Himmelrich's role in investigating the firing of Elizabeth Riel before she assumed the post of communications director for the City ("Santa Monica Ethics Review Finds Lapses in Judgment," April 20, 2016).
"Thanks to her leadership, there is a code of ethics binding city staff," the Coalition wrote. "She 'walks the talk' and doesn't take developer or corporate donations."
Himmelrich, who is seeking a second term, is one of three incumbents on the November 6 ballot.
Councilmember Pam O'Connor is seeking a record seventh term on the Council, while McKeown is seeking a sixth term.
There are also four challengers on the ballot -- Scott Bellomo, Greg Morena, Geoffrey Neri and Ashley Powell ("Santa Monica City Council Ballot Thinnest in Decades," August 20, 2018).
Among the challengers, only Morena has won a major endorsement so far.
The Coalition also is supporting Measure TL, which would amend the City Charter to limit each of the council’s seven members to three terms ("Santa Monica Voters to Decide Term Limits for Council in November," July 5, 2018).
The measure is sponsored by Himmelrich and Mary Marlow, who heads the political watchdog group Transparent Santa Monica.
"Currently councilmembers have virtual life tenures," the Coalition wrote. "Over the past quarter century ALL but two have been re-elected.
"Their repeated re-election is regularly fueled by massive support from special interests, including developers," the statement said. "Over time incumbents become more cozy with these interests and increasingly defer to staff. Residents are regularly left out."
The coalition first came to prominence a dozen years ago when it opposed a plan to redevelop Santa Monica Place and include three 21-story condo towers on the site.
In 2014, the group filed a lawsuit to halt the Bergamot Transit Village project that was the subject of a referendum drive that led to the Council reversing its approval ("Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City Announces Lawsuit to Halt Hines Development," March 11, 2014).
Residocracy, which led the drive, has become the City's largest slow-growth group. It has yet to make endorsements for the November elections.
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