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Political Group's E-mail Blasts O'Day, Who Calls it 'Garbage'

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

October 21, 2010 -- The group behind 2008’s failed anti-growth Measure T this week sent a mass e-mail attacking City Council member Terry Day as a “big developer’s best friend” and encouraging residents to vote for three other council candidates next month. O’Day called the e-mail “garbage” and “not truthful.”

“Mr. O’Day spent years on Santa Monica’s Planning Commission voting for every project big developers wanted,” states the e-mail from the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC). “When he ran for City Council in 2006, developers poured money into his campaign. But Santa Monicans, knowing who was behind him, rejected Mr. O’Day and the traffic snarling growth he stood for.”

The e-mail goes on to note that O’Day headed the campaign in opposition to Measure T. “As his reward for defeating Prop T, the other developer-backed members of the City Council gave Mr. O’Day something he couldn’t win for himself, a seat on City Council.”

O’Day was appointed to the council earlier this year to fill the seat made vacant by the death of Ken Genser. He is competing in the election with four other candidates to finish the term. The seat made vacant by the death of Herb Katz that Gleam Davis was appointed to fill is also at stake. The top two vote-getters in that race will win the seats for two-year terms.

“I think it’s terrible and shameful,” O’Day said of the e-mail. “I don’t think there’s a place for this in our politics.”

He said it is not true that he is an automatic vote for development, and that as a planning commissioner, there were several projects he voted to deny or that they should be redesigned to become “more compatible to the neighborhood.”

O’Day also defended his position as head of the anti-Measure T campaign. He said the measure was “good on principal,” but flawed in the details. He noted the measure was opposed by others who are traditionally on the side against development, with Genser among them.

“As planning commissioner, I saw Measure T as a real threat to the priorities of our community, and our community was split,” O’Day said. “I could see that the way that Measure T ignored important advice from progressives in our community and simply over-reached. It would have had serious consequences for schools, nonprofits and affordable housing.”

O’Day also looked to the council’s recent approval of the update to the City General Plan’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) as proof that he is supportive of neighborhood preservation. The LUCE was unanimously approved by the council, and considered a “pro-neighborhoods” document, but some council members rejected specific features, including increases on maximum building heights, that were supported by O’Day.

While O’Day said commercial development will be done responsibly in Santa Monica thanks to the LUCE, SMCLC portrays a much gloomier picture for the future of the city.

“More development is coming,” the e-mail states. “Lots more. Millions of square feet of new hotels, media centers, office buildings, you name it. And Terry O’Day will vote to approve all of it. He’s never opposed a big development in the past, why would he start now?”

The e-mail encourages voters to reject O’Day and Council member Pam O’Connor (who is running in the race for three four-year seats and was recently the target of an SMCLC press release). It recommends people vote for incumbent Kevin McKeown and challenger Ted Winterer in the four-year race and neighborhood activist Susan Hartley in the two-year contest.

“To make your vote even stronger, vote only for those three candidates,” the e-mail states, encouraging voters to select fewer candidates than seats being contested.

O’Day said including endorsements in the e-mail shows SMCLC is not a transparent organization because it did not have a formal process to select the candidates. Also, he said it is not clear who funds the group. SMCLC’s most recent finance statement, according to the City Clerk’s website, was made in June. It says the group has raised $250 this year.

“They’re creating these innuendos, but they could report their own funding, but they choose not to do that,” O’Day said. “That’s not transparent.”

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