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More Than $1.2 Million Spent to Defeat Santa Monica’s LUVE Measure  

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 6, 2017 -- Measure LV, which would have required voter approval for most major developments and planning regulations, was soundly defeated, but the opponents’ victory had a large price tag, according to the semi-annual campaign finance disclosure statements filed with the City.

Major opponents of the Land Use Voter Empowerment measure (also known as LUVE and appearing on the ballot as Measure LV) spent more than $1.2 million combined to defeat the proposal, which lost by 11 percent of the vote.

Residocracy, the activist group that proposed LUVE, spent a little more than $73,000 on its campaign.

Two separate major campaigns against the measure took place, with Santa Monica Forward spending nearly $744,000 and Housing and Opportunity for a Modern Economy (HOME) putting up just under $483,000.

Forward received donations from more than 200 contributors, but most of its funding came from various corporate property owners and real estate interests.

Nearly all of HOME’s money came from three developers -- NMS Properties, Century West Partners and the owner of the proposed mixed-use project at 525 Colorado Avenue.

Among the top contributors to Residocracy’s campaign were activist Carol Landsberg ($10,000), Los Angeles real estate investor Ishak Bibawi ($5,000), Venice businessman Mark Sokol ($5,000) and retiree Thomas Epley ($3,135).

LUVE supporters say the large spending discrepancy between the campaigns was the major reason for the measure’s defeat. But recent Santa Monica history shows that big spending does not necessarily translate to victory.

Aviation interests spent approximately $935,000 in 2014 to support a measure that would have severely limited the City Council’s authority over Santa Monica Airport and to oppose a rival proposal from the council.

The opposition spent just $145,000 that year, but were still victorious. The pro-aviation measure lost by a wide margin and the council’s rival proposal won by a large margin (“Big Money Spent on Santa Monica’s November Ballot Measures,” February 4, 2015).

Lots of money was also spent last fall to pass Measure V-- a $395 million Santa Monica College bond that will be used to fund facilities improvements.

The pro-campaign spent $523,000, with the majority of the money coming from the KCRW Foundation (which supports the public radio station), Santa Monica Associated Students and the Santa Monica College Foundation.

No opposition group filed a disclosure statement with the City, but there was a website against the measure and the group behind it produced at least one advertisement.

Two groups combined to spend more than $269,000 to pass the dual measures of GS and GSH -- a half-cent sales tax and a non-binding recommendation that the revenue go to schools and affordable housing.

There was no organized opposition.

The Campaign for Public Education & Affordable Housing, supported by various donors, spent nearly $146,000. City Councilmember Sue Himmelrich almost entirely funded the other campaign, which spent more than $123,000.

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