By Jason Islas
September 25, 2012 -- Santa Monica's newest Political Action Committee -- Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth (SMRG) -- voted early last week to endorse two challengers in a race for four seats.
The new group, which has ties to the Miramar opposition, gave its blessing to Planning Commissioners Ted Winterer and Richard McKinnon, both of whom have positioned themselves as candidates who want to demand more from developers. (“New Santa Monica Group Has Ties to Miramar Opposition,” August 22, 2012)
“Richard and Ted were the most on our wavelength in terms of development, the risks, dangers, downside of development,” said Ivan Perkins, chair of SMRG's seven-person steering committee.
In a statement released Sunday, Perkins said that SMRG members believe McKinnon and Winterer are "the candidates who most closely share our concerns about the ways that major new developments can negatively impact traffic, parking, aesthetics, the character of neighborhoods, and the economic vibrancy of the City.”
“Ted is a champion of scaling back development and advocating for the schools. Richard has a 'Deep Green' vision of our city as an arboretum, and has been a warrior for making Santa Monica more bike-friendly,” Perkins wrote.
McKinnon and Winterer welcomed the endorsement.
"I've publicly stateed that I am a proponent of responsible growth, so I am pleased to be endorsed by a group which shares that philosophy," Winterer told The Lookout.
“The reason I ran was to put forward a strong agenda of change,” said McKinnon.
And it seems that his message of change has resonated with members of SMRG, who did not endorse either incumbent, Council members Gleam Davis or Terry O'Day.
“We were not able to come to consensus around them,” said Perkins. “We agreed early on that we'd only make decisions we could all agree on.”
The group, which officially became a PAC this August, started when residents united to oppose the redevelopment of the Miramar Hotel, . which could add as many as 120 condominiums and three new buildings to its site at Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.
“A group of residents got involved in development issues here in Santa Monica when we heard about the proposed construction of a massive hotel/condominium complex on the site of the Miramar hotel,” Perkins wrote in an open letter on August 31.
SMRG is the second slow-growth advocacy group to endorse Winterer and McKinnon while snubbing the incumbents.
On September 11, the beachside City's oldest and most powerful anti-development group, Santa Monica Coalition for a Liveable City (SMCLC), announced that they endorsed Winterer -- a former member of the SMCLC steering committee -- and McKinnon.
SMCLC did not mention either O'Day or Davis.
The group also endorsed Assembly member Betsy Butler over Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom in the race to represent Assembly District 50 because, SMCLC representatives said, Bloom had been too pro-development.
Perkins said that SMRG is not planning on weighing in on the Assembly District race.