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Santa Monica Becomes Key Issue in LA Council Race

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

April 13 -- Santa Monica's impact on its neighbors is fast becoming an issue as two Westside candidates slug it out in the May 17 race for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.

As Bill Rosendahl and Flora Krisiloff look to gain an advantage in a race too close to call, how Santa Monica handles development, traffic, the City's airport and the possible expansion of Santa Monica Collage are showing up repeatedly as important planks in the contenders' platforms.

These key issues, the candidates agree, will impact the nearly 260,000 residents in the 11th District, which represents some nine communities near Santa Monica.

"I believe we're all in this together," said Rosendahl. "Santa Monica is in the heart of the district... What I'm looking forward to is sitting down with Santa Monica."

"Santa Monica has gotten away with murder," said Krisiloff's campaign manager, Rick Taylor. "All they do is build, build, build and they're never held responsible for what they're building."

On her Web site, Krisiloff -- who finished three points shy of Rosendahl in the March primaries -- charges that the self-governed beachside city should be held "accountable for the traffic they create."

"Santa Monica has approved millions of square feet of development over the years, but where are their plans to deal with the traffic they're creating on OUR streets?" her Web site asks.

"The City of Santa Monica should be required to demonstrate how they will deal with every additional car trip generated from the developments they approve."

Increased cooperation with the Santa Monica City Council to come up with a more comprehensive traffic mitigation plan will be "the key" to lessening traffic woes, Taylor said, adding that it is something "that ought to have been done ten years ago."

Rosendahl -- who for 16 years was the host of several community forums on cable television -- said he would work to bring the Los Angeles and Santa Monica planning departments to the table in the form of "an informal working committee" to discuss projects that would impact the area.

"That way, when someone wants to build something commercial, the two communities can decide how to mitigate the traffic together," he said. "The cooperation of the cities in community development is a must."

Los Angeles communities should also have more of a say in how two Santa Monica institutions -- the airport and the college -- impact the district, which includes Venice, Mar Vista, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Palms, West LA, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, Rosendahl said.

Calling Santa Monica's Airport a "bad neighbor," his Web site contends that "Los Angeles residents get the bulk of the noise, the air traffic, the pollution, and the threat of a catastrophic crash," while "Santa Monica gets all the revenue.

"Something is wrong with this picture -- and it needs to be fixed," the Web site states.

Noise and air pollution from "tornado-like jet exhaust", Rosendahl said, hinder the quality of life for Angelenos on a daily basis.

"The problem is a failure of leadership," his Web site says.

In addition to calling for further studies on pollution and taking steps to monitor noise generated by aircraft, Rosendahl advocates amending the qualifications to sit on Santa Monica's Airport Commission in order to pave the way for "at least one representative from Los Angeles neighborhoods."

The airport isn't the only Santa Monica institution garnering attenton in the LA council race.

As Santa Monica College continues to grow, keeping traffic in check will be a priority in coming years, Rosendahl said.

Rosendahl, who advocates keeping the gate on Stewart Street leading to the airport closed to general traffic, said he is concerned about the impact of traffic on both Centinela and Rose avenues.

"As a university professor, I understand more than anyone the need for educational assets in the community," Rosendahl says on his Web site. "However, we cannot destroy the character of the neighborhood.

"Traffic from this project could tremendous negative consequences for Mar Vista, and it is incumbent upon Santa Monica College to make sure this does not happen."

Krisiloff's campaign staff said their candidate agrees with Rosendahl on many of his proposals regarding the college and the airport.

"We have pretty much the same stance on these two issues," Taylor said. "We need to curtail those huge jets flying in and out of there.

"As far as the college goes, though, we believe they are doing the best they can. We would continue to work with them to mitigate the traffic, though."

In the March primaries, Rosendahl received 44.6 percent of the vote to Krisiloff's 41.7 percent, with a third contender taking 13.7 percent of the vote.

As election day approaches, both candidates have picked up several key endorsements in the heated race to replace 11th District incumbent, Cindy Miscikowski, who will leave office at the end of June because of term limits.

Jorge Casuso contributed to this report

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