April 2007
Here's What We've Been Up To

Dear Friends and Supporters of Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City:

Our sustained efforts paid off.

In response to residents’ orchestrated and ongoing opposition, the owners of Santa Monica Place just returned to the community with a drastically scaled down proposal. Instead of their original plan to demolish the entire 10-acre site and build 1.5 million square feet of commercial and residential development, they now propose refurbishing the existing mall and adding no additional square footage. They also no longer will seek public funds from our city for their project.

This was a huge victory for Santa Monica residents concerned about over-development. Your support of our opposition efforts was crucial to our success.

SMCLC has also been busy in other important areas.

Vindicating the Public’s Right to Public Records of City Business

The City settled our lawsuit, which we filed after it refused to turn over important public records relating to Santa Monica Place. The City agreed to release the requested records, as well as pay our attorney’s fees and costs.

Our success in court compelled our City government to disclose public information about the largest development project in Santa Monica history, a project which had been negotiated behind closed doors. This success has broader application, by showing the City the importance of bringing its deal-making out from the shadows and providing all public information in its possession when a member of the public requests it.

Reversing an Ill-Advised Vote by the Council to Give Market Rate Condo Developers Preferential Treatment

Many of you responded to our request to sign our Open Letter to the City Council urging them to rescind their vote, which favored market rate condo development by providing preference incentives. The Council heard us loud and clear, and abandoned this approach when it adopted an ordinance that downzoned key areas of our City.

This downzoning was in response to SMCLC and other groups’ successful efforts to change some city zoning in response to Proposition 90, last year’s ballot initiative, which would have made future downzoning all but impossible.

Now that Prop 90 has failed, we must work to ensure that the Council does not reverse course and permit greater development in these affected areas.

Ensuring that Resident’s Input Is Adopted in the General Plan Update Process

Over the past year, SMCLC has carefully monitored and analyzed the City’s progress reports as it updates the “LUCE” (Land-Use and Circulation Elements) of our General Plan. SMCLC has exposed the City’s unrealistic assumptions about future growth and traffic, and its inexplicable failure to integrate residents’ goals and concerns into several land-use alternatives that were under consideration.

As a result, City Council directed staff to correct these flaws in the planning process.

Counting Traffic Accurately for All of the Areas within Our City’s Boundaries

Last year we garnered support from the Planning Commission and our City’s highly respected Task Force on the Environment, to urge the City to adopt a new, more accurate way to count traffic throughout Santa Monica, 24/7.

Despite this widespread support, our City Council has failed to move forward on this, and, equally important, our city’s circulation element lags woefully behind the updating of the land-use plan.

In other words, the City is deciding how much future development to allow, before it evaluates how much current development impacts traffic and the environment. This approach all but guarantees that the new land-use plan, which will dictate the level of growth for the next twenty years, will promote more development than the City can realistically absorb.

SMCLC is requesting that the City adopt alternative and superior traffic counting methodologies now, so that we can better understand the true impact of future development on our infrastructure and the true limits of how much growth our neighborhoods can handle.

We Rely on You.

As always, we rely on you, our supporters, to respond to our action alerts and contact Council Members when important issues are being decided. Because of time constraints, we can only send these alerts through email.

If you haven’t already done so, please make sure we have your current email address by visiting our website at SMCLC.NET. It’s important for Council Members to know how residents feel about development issues.

We also rely on you to make a contribution. Running an organization, even an all-volunteer one like ours, takes money (e.g., outreach, building our database, legal fees, research). Please renew your support by sending us what you can in the enclosed envelope, or by going to our website and making a donation.

SMCLC will continue to fight so that residents’ voices are heard when important development decisions are made in our city. Please help us continue that fight.

Thank you,
SMCLC Steering Committee