Soundly Defeated Across the City, Vote Analysis Shows
By Jorge Casuso
November 19 – Prop T, the initiative on the November
4 ballot to limit most commercial development in Santa Monica, barely
won only three precincts and was soundly defeated in the other 51,
according to an analysis of election results.
The measure, also called the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT),
was rejected by voters in all corners of Santa Monica despite the endorsement
of the city’s five neighborhood groups.
The final precinct tally -- which does not include absentee ballots counted
after election day -- showed Prop T went down with 17,878 voters, or 56.5 percent,
rejecting the measure and 14,170, 43.5 percent, voting in favor.
Of the three precincts picked up by supporters, RIFT won by razor-thin
margins in two -- by 50.2 and 50.3 percent -- while in the third,
only a smattering of votes were cast by its few residents.
“It looks like all in all folks have spoken pretty loud and clear,”
said Bruce Cameron, a political consultant who worked on the anti-T
campaign. “The precincts where no (on Rift) got more than
60 percent of the vote were scattered across the city.”
Unlike other local elections, the Prop T vote did not reflect a longstanding
rift between renters and homeowners, who joined forces to both back
and oppose the measure, which would have capped most commercial
development at 75,000 square feet annually for 15 years.
That could be in large part because Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights
(SMRR), the city’s powerful tenants group, did not take a
position on the measure, Cameron said.
“The absence of SMRR on either side of T made it a very open
playing field,” said Cameron, who is a member of the SMRR
steering committee. “That negated the traditional renter-homeowner
Most voters defied the endorsement of the city’s neighborhood groups
-- Friends of Sunset Park, the North of Montana Association, the Ocean Park
Association, the Pico Neighborhood Association and the Wilmont Neighborhood
The turning point in the race seemed to come three weeks before voters went
to the polls, said Cameron, who helped organize the canvassing effort for the
“Three weeks out, there were a ton of undecideds,” Cameron said.
The anti-T campaign sent out a dozen mailers touting the opposition of the
city’s major unions – police, firefighters, municipal employees,
teachers and hotel workers – as well as most City Council members and
State Senator Sheila Kuehl.
“I think it was the endorsements that made the difference,” Cameron
said. “The endorsements made all the difference in the four corners of
Opponents had a hefty campaign warchest to get out their message
– a vote for Prop T could force the City to scale back future
funding for public education, devastating the schools, and could
jeopardize funding for public safety.
Supporters of Prop T, who raised less than $100,000, compared to
the more than $730,000 pumped by developers into the anti-T campaign,
had scarce resources to fight back.
Despite the high-profile battle over the measure, 5,093 of the voters who cast
a vote for president failed to vote on T.
“Fourteen percent didn’t make it from the top of the ticket to
the bottom of the ticket,” Cameron said.
Part of the reason was the lack of interest in the local races for City Council,
as well as School and College Boards, where there was little serious
opposition, political sources said.
In fact, for the first time in the tenant group’s 30-year history, SMRR
only endorsed two council candidates in the race for four open seats.
“SMRR took a lot of drama out of the top of the local ticket,”