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|Santa Monica Neighborhood Group Postpones Election|
By Jorge Casuso
June 8, 2012 -- Santa Monica's Wilmont neighborhood group will cancel its election Saturday after leaders said they have failed to verify the eligibility of eleven potential candidates vying for seats on the board.
The candidates are members of an organized opposition to the proposed Miramar Hotel redevelopment, which the current board supports, Wilmont leaders said.
"We have not validated the signatures on any petition because we
have not been able to," said Wilmont Chair Valerie Griffin. "Yesterday,
our membership director broke her hip. We don't know if everyone who
signed was a member."
"The Huntley has been mounting a campaign against Wilmont," Griffin said.
Sixteen different people signed the nominating petitions, with Huntley's general manager Manju Raman's signature appearing on every petition except her own.
Many of the 11 members who submitted petitions to run have joined the group since May 1, Griffin said. Others may have joined to support the opposition candidates.
Twenty new members signed up online since May 1, Griffin said, adding that the group's bylaws allow them to vote in the election.
"According to the bylaws, there is no waiting period," said Griffin, who said she joined the group in 2007 and waited a year before being elected to the board in 2008.
There are currently eight members on the Wilmont Board, although the bylaws are flexible when it comes to the number of members, Griffin said.
She said there is a longstanding rule that new members "are not permitted to immediately join the board."
To run for a seat, candidates must be members for 12 months and attend three board meetings and "have done something to help Wilmont," Griffin said.
"Not one of these 11 have done anything recent for Wilmont, only one has been a member for 12 months and only one has attended three meetings," Griffin said.
The current board voted to support the Miramar project because it would add much-needed parking in an area where the "three top issues are parking, parking, parking," Griffin said.
The project, Miramar officials say, would boost the number of parking spaces at the hotel from 167 to 484, with 125 of the spaces dedicated for workers, many of whom now park on the street.
In a letter to the council shortly before it voted to enter into a development agreement with the hotel April 24, Griffin noted that the proposed redevelopment would "provide sufficient on-site parking for their workers," freeing up spaces on the street for residents.
Proponents of the Miramar say the Huntley and residents of neighboring buildings are mounting a campaign to stop the development because the new buildings would block the views.
"Wilmont is far too big to tear apart over one snit some people are having," Griffin said.
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