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City Council Candidates Share Their Thoughts on Development


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October 22, 2018 -- Unlike 2008 and 2016 when ballot measures to curb development triggered fierce battles, the development measure on the November ballot has drawn little attention and no opposition. We asked council members what that means.

City officials seem to agree there is a lull in the battle over development. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Scott Bellomo

I disagree with the contention of city officials that there is a “lull” in the battle over development. I think that’s what they want us to believe because it helps with their reelection chances. But, there is a lingering bad taste in the mouths of many residents over the hyper-development of the past decade.

Sue Himmelrich

While there may be a lull in the battle, there is no lull in the pace of development itself. Nor is there a lull in tenant harassment and buyouts in existing residential buildings.

We have succeeded in stopping several oversized projects in the past four years -- the Hines development on Olympic and the proposed 300+ foot proposal at the Miramar that wildly exceeded city standards -- come to mind. But we had to work excessively hard to stop them. It should not be so difficult to stop projects that exceed our city approved development standards.

Hopefully, Measure SM (the super-majority measure) will pass and will help control excessive projects.

Kevin McKeown

Santa Monica’s development problems came from encouraging a robust commercial sector without adequate transportation options or nearby affordable housing.

Three years ago, as Mayor, I hammered out the details of a new citywide zoning code that puts an emphasis on housing, in downtown, along transit corridors, and on reclaimed light industrial sections of our city, all, again, with a mandate for inclusionary affordable housing. This protects our existing neighborhoods, and neighbors.

I am slow-growth, pro-housing, and pro-transportation options.

I have placed on November’s ballot Measure SM, requiring a super-majority vote of the City Council for any project exceeding height or floor area ratio limits specified in our adopted land use plans. Passage will assure residents that we will Stick To Our Plan: S.T.O.P.

The era of developer exceptions is over. My Measure SM has broad support, and in fact, there has been no opposition argument filed for the ballot booklet.

Greg Morena

With the state of the country, most of us are concerned with the pressing issues of immigration rights, women’s rights and basic human rights are horrifying. When we get up in the morning, we aren’t thinking about overdevelopment. We are thinking about what kind of violence, fear mongering and hate will we be faced with today.

Pam O'Connor

The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and the recently adopted Downtown Community Plan (DCP) guide development throughout the City. The LUCE, updated in 2015, is designed to maintain the City’s character, protect neighborhoods, manage transportation systems and encourage additional housing, especially affordable housing, in a sustainable manner.

The LUCE is the long-term framework for planning. The Zoning Code provides specific guidance such as height and building size regarding how to develop buildings under the LUCE. The DCP guides the development limits and guidelines for that central area. A goal of the DCP states that “housing is strongly encouraged to accommodate residents of all incomes, family situations, and stages of life.”

Both plans encourage new housing. However, still to be evaluated is whether the zoning standards have enabled creation of new housing or not. And if not, what path to take to encourage more housing, especially affordable housing.

Ashley Powell

This may be true because developers have stopped looking to do developments in Santa Monica given the complex bureaucracy they must go through in order to successfully develop.


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