Santa Monica Lookout
Huntley Hotel Backed Santa Monica Slow-Growth Group, Documents Show
By Jason Islas
February 1, 2013 -- Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth (SMRG) received $20,000 from the Huntley Hotel, which is embroiled in a battle to stop the proposed redevelopment of the neighboring Miramar Hotel, according to campaign finance disclosure statements released Thursday.
The slow-growth political action committee (PAC), which backed City Council candidates Richard McKinnon and Ted Winterer in November, also received $50,000 from Play Ground Consulting, Inc., a Nevada-based network security firm. Winterer was one of four council candidates elected in November
The PAC, which spent nearly $100,000 during the election, was formed by opponents of the Miramar redevelopment project, which would replace two buildings on the hotel's campus with three new buildings, adding as many as 120 condominiums
Ivan Perkins, one of SMRG's founding members, told The Lookout last summer that Susan Burnside, a political consultant working for the Huntley, had been active in introducing members of the group to one another.
"I'm happy to work with whomever I may be aligned with," Perkins told The Lookout in August, adding that the reasons the Huntley opposes the Miramar redevelopment project may be different than SMRG's own.
Still, according to the documents, the lion's share of the group's warchest came from Nevada-based Playground Consulting, Inc., which Perkins said had clients in Santa Monica. However, he could not say if the Huntley numbered among them.
Rumors that the Huntley was going to fund an anti-development campaign spurred developers to organize a counter-attack, according to local political sources.
Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future (SMURF), a developer-backed group, managed to raise $400,000 by November. As of press time, SMURF's final campaign finance disclosure forms were unavailable.
Among SMURF’s contributors were Ocean Avenue, LLC, the developer behind the Miramar project; Hines 26th Street, LLC, which is proposing to develop the Bergamot Transit Village, and NMS Properties, Inc., which is currently Santa Monica's largest housing developer.
“It appears that the Huntley pulled back, but the momentum behind the SMURF organization could not be stopped,” a source familiar with Santa Monica politics told The Lookout in October.
Three of the four candidates backed by SMURF – Winterer and incumbents Glean Davis and Terry O’Day – were elected November 6.
Tony Vazquez, who had served on the council from 1990 to 1994, defeated SMURF candidate Shari Davis.
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