In for “Anti-Traffic” Initiative
By Lookout News
April 24 -- On Wednesday, proponents of an initiative
that would limit commercial development in Santa Monica submitted
nearly twice as many signatures as needed to qualify the measure
for the November ballot.
Proponents of the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) handed in 10,295
signatures to the City Clerk and are confident they will have far more than
the 5,957 signatures of qualified voters needed to place the measure before
As many as 120 volunteers combed Santa Monica’s streets over the past
three months gathering signatures for the “anti-traffic” measure,
which would limit new commercial development to 75,000 square feet of floor
area a year over the next 15 years. Schools, hospitals, religious buildings
and other “community-serving development” would be exempt.
"We found that residents in overwhelming numbers agree with us that development
and traffic in our city is ‘out of control,’" said Diana Gordon,
co-chair of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, which is sponsoring
“Santa Monicans are tired of commercial over-development and ever worsening
traffic,” Gordon said. "Over 100 residents gathered signatures as
part of an historic movement to give residents the right to control and pace
future development and related traffic impacts in Santa Monica."
The Coalition contends RIFT will slow development, “allowing Santa Monica's
public transportation system and infrastructure time to catch up with local
The measure also will halt the exodus of small businesses driven out by chains
forcing up real estate prices, Gordon wrote in a letter to local business owners
“The consolidation of parcels, demolition, and intensified uses of commercial
properties throughout downtown, the industrial lands and major boulevards, will
force neighborhood-serving businesses to relocate or close,” Gordon wrote.
“This alarming trend would also drive up rents and result in chain stores
and regional commercial developments pushing out our local businesses.”
Those involved in the signature-gathering drive say many of the coalition’s
volunteers were not the residents who regularly show up at government and community
All duplicate signatures were eliminated and a sampling showed that 80 percent
of the signature are valid, a coalition member said.
With development and traffic making headlines as the top issues on the Westside,
as well as in much of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica initiative promises to be
closely watched, and likely opposed, by developers and business interests in
The Chamber Board last month voted to oppose the measure, saying it could stymie
much-needed projects and is based on a premise that has not been proven and
may in fact be faulty -- that curbing commercial development relieves traffic
“The definition of commercial development is extremely broad,”
said Chamber President Tom Larmore. “This goes far beyond office development.
The commercial development definition includes a whole raft of things.”
Among the developments capped by the proposed initiative are hotels, which
generate little or no additional traffic; medical facilities that complement
the two major hospitals, and movie theaters to replace the outdated venues Downtown,
In addition to curbing potentially beneficial projects, the initiative could
discourage building the workforce housing its sponsors support, said Larmore,
who is a real estate attorney. Because such housing cannot be deed restricted,
it will most likely have to be subsidized by commercial development on site.
Some Southern California communities -- including Newport Beach, Thousand Oaks,
Oxnard and Redondo Beach -- are either working on traffic-related
initiatives or have enacted them in recent years coalition officials