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“T” for Traffic

By Jorge Casuso

August 18 – The “t” word may not appear on the November ballot, but the letter will designate a measure -- Proposition T -- that is generating plenty of debate about whether it will do anything to curb traffic.

Sponsors of the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) trumpeted the Los Angeles County Registrar’s decision to assign the letter to the measure.

“It's official. ‘RIFT’ is now Proposition ‘T.’ ‘T’ as in ‘traffic,’” the group wrote in a letter to its supporters Monday.

“We asked to be assigned that letter because we know that Prop T will reduce the amount of new traffic on our already congested streets by limiting new commercial development (office, hotel, and retail),” supporters wrote.

Opponents argue that the word “traffic” -- which does not appear in the City Attorneys’ 72-word description on the November 4 ballot -- is an emotional catch-word that has little or no bearing on the impacts of the measure.

While the measure caps most commercial development at 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years, it will do little to curb a traffic problem that spurred frustrated voters to sign the SMRR petition under false pretenses, opponents said.

“It doesn’t actually result in traffic reduction,” said Terry O’Day, a City Planning Commissioner who is co-chair of Save Our City, a new group formed to oppose the measure. “Commercial development is what it’s really targeting, and it doesn’t target that very well.”

Calling the measure “Prop T,” O’Day said, “isn’t much of an issue with us. It’s a much more complicated question. We’ll get results from the community as we talk to people.”

Opponents hope voters can dispassionately view a hot-button issue that consistently appears near the top of residents’ concerns.

But the “T” word promises to be the center of the hotly contested measure, even if it doesn’t appear on the actual ballot.

“Santa Monica is drowning in a sea of traffic which our streets and neighborhoods weren't designed to handle,” reads the Argument in Favor of Measure T that will appear on voter pamphlets.

The argument -- which mentions the word “traffic” seven times, four in the first five sentences – draws a direct relationship between traffic and commercial development.

“Prop T will reduce the amount of new traffic added to our already congested streets by limiting annual new commercial development (office, hotel, and retail) to about half its current rate,” the argument states.

The Argument Against Measure T mentions “traffic” five times, twice in the first three sentences.

“Traffic is a major problem in Santa Monica, but Measure T is not the solution,” opponents wrote. “Measure T will not do what it claims. It will not reduce our traffic, and it will create many new problems for our city.”





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