Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Referendum Gathers More than 13,000 Signatures||
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By Jason Islas
March 12, 2014 -- Opponents of a major development in Santa Monica’s industrial corridor submitted 13,440 signatures Tuesday, more than twice the number needed to put the controversial project before voters in November.
It will take about a month for the LA County Registrar to verify whether 6,100 of the signatures -- the 10 percent of Santa Monica's registered voters needed to qualify the measure -- are valid, according to City officials.
Dozens of local activists -- waving American flags -- gathered on the steps of City Hall late Tuesday morning with more than 30 boxes filled with copies of the petitions signed after the City Council approved the 765,000 square-foot development on February 11. (“Santa Monica City Council Narrowly Approves Bergamot Transit Village,” February 5, 2014)
“We’re here to show our elected officials that our voices matter,” said Armen Melkonians, a former City Council candidate who spearheaded the referendum drive through his website, Residocracy.org. (“Santa Monica Resident Group Gears up for Referendum,” February 7, 2014)
Melkonians and other opponents of the project have argued that the mixed-use residential and commercial project -- located across the street from one of three future Expo Light Rail stations in Santa Monica at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard -- is too large for the bayside city.
One of the referendum drive’s biggest financial supporters was the Huntley Hotel, which donated $10,000 of the $22,489 raised by Residocracy through March 3, according to campaign finance disclosure forms submitted Monday.
With more than twice the number of signatures required, political observers said it is likely the referendum will meet the threshold to qualify for the November ballot even after duplicate and invalid signatures are removed.
If the measure qualifies, the City Council will have a chance to decide whether to rescind approval of the project, hold a special election or let it go on the ballot in November.
Aside from the referendum, the Bergamot project faces a legal hurdle.
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