SANTA MONICA—A city-wide initiative started by a Santa Monica activist group is battling City Council for the resident’s rights to vote on major city development issues and projects.
The movement, LUVE (Lander User Vote Empowerment), is being lead by Residocracy, a Santa Monica activist group that is aiming to protect the city from overdevelopment, keep traffic from getting worse, preserve resources, and protect the character of the town.
Some Santa Monica residents and Residocracy supporters are asserting that they should have a say in the way the city evolves.
Residocracy has collected the required number of signatures since the initiative was launched, which leaves the Santa Monica City Council with three options: adopt the ordinance, place the measure on the November 8 ballot, or instruct city staff to conduct a study on its possible impacts. If the council votes to conduct a study, their findings must be completed and presented at the July 12 council meeting.
The initiative is a response to several recent, controversial projects that have been approved or are being processed without the approval of Santa Monica residents.
Projects that have sparked controversy in the Santa Monica community include: The Hines Papermate project, which would have added 765,000-square-feet of office, housing, retail, and restaurants across five approximately 80-foot-tall buildings on Olympics Boulevard and 26 Street – residents voiced complaints that it would create monumental traffic issues and served City Council 13,000 signatures in opposition to the project and the course was reversed; the Ocean Avenue project, or “The Frank Gehry Hotel,” which is a 22-story beach-front hotel tower at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Private developments along the coast have raised complaints that the tower blocks ocean views; and the Plaza at Santa Monica, which is a 12-story, half-million-square-foot project in the center of the city, which has received backlash from residents.
Residocracy aims for LUVE to offer residents a say in how the city is developed, instead of protesting unpopular projects after City Council has already secured approval from city officials.
LUVE calls for voters to have the final say on most developments taller than 32 feet, any project involving a developmental agreement, and changes to city planning policies, which includes zoning laws, district maps, and neighborhood plans. One-hundred percent affordable housing projects of 50 units or less are exempt.
Residocracy has already raised $30,000 for the initiative to campaign as of June 1.
There are two formal opposition campaigns against the measure. Critics argue that LUVE would make it more difficult to build what they considered, much-needed projects for housing, specifically affordable housing, and that it would lead to many big-money elections.
Canyon News reached out to Residocracy for comment, but did not hear back before print.