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Slow Growth Group Maneuvers to Influence Council Election

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

April 22, 2014 -- The slow growth group Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) rallied its members last Tuesday to join the city’s most powerful political organization in an attempt to influence the upcoming City Council election.

A letter included in an April 15 email from SMCLC leaders titled “Strategy: A Way to Build Influence on Issues” encourages its members to join Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) so they could vote at its endorsement convention, which will take place Aug. 3 at John Adams Middle School. To vote at the convention, residents must fill out an application and pay a $25 membership fee to SMRR by April 30.

Six of the seven sitting council members have received SMRR endorsements, and nearly every council has had a SMRR majority during the group’s 35 year-history. 

SMCLC’s move could be an attempt to oust Mayor Pam O’Connor, who has clashed with the organization in the past. O’Connor, who SMCLC leaders consider to be pro-development, is up for reelection in November, as are Kevin McKeown and Bob Holbrook.

“We need SMRR to support three candidates who will put residents first in development issues,” the letter states. “One of those candidates, whom we proudly support, will be Kevin McKeown. But who will be the other two?”

The letter continues, “The only way to slow our city's out-of-control development is to change the makeup of our out-of-control City Council.”

Citing an influx of nearly 40 major proposed developments in the pipeline, SMCLC leaders called on the group’s members to make sure those who receive the SMRR endorsements would fight against development.

“Currently, there are four out of seven councilmembers who consistently vote for whatever massive development comes their way,” the letter states. “We must flip at least one of those seats in the election this November in order to change the disastrous direction our city is headed. And we can. But we’ll need your help.”

The letter cites SMRR’s support of the referendum against the Bergamot Village Project in an attempt to link the two organizations.

“SMRR endorsed the Residocracy petition to stop the Hines development, so we know many of their members have also had enough of our city's hyper-development,” the email states.

The full text of the letter can be seen here on the Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors news blog.

The Lookout spoke with SMRR Co-Chair Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, who is cautious about the membership push by SMCLC.

“I think SMRR is an incredible and progressive organization and as a co-chair, I want people to join SMRR who share our values” he said. “At the top of the list is rent control, protecting our neighborhoods and making sure we have diversity in our community.”

He added, “We welcome people who share our values. I’m not pleased at all when people use SMRR as a tool to get elected to public office and don’t share our values.”

SMCLC did not respond to several requests for comment.


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