Logo horizontal ruler


RIFT Foes Launch Campaign

By Jorge Casuso

July 29 -- A new group that includes more than two dozen political and civic leaders from both sides of Santa Monica’s deeply divided political spectrum is raising money and rallying volunteers to help defeat an anti-development measure on the November ballot.

Called “Save Our City,” the group charges that the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) -- which would cap most local commercial development at 75,000 feet a year for the next 15 years -- is “too risky for local schools” and “detrimental to Santa Monica residents’ quality of life.”

The group, which counts of the support of five council members and four former mayors, includes leaders of the Chamber of Commerce as well as of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the powerful tenant rights group that has controlled local politics for most of the past three decades.

“This is a different group than we’ve ever seen before,” said Terry O’Day, a Planning Commissioner and co-chair of Save Our City. “We have people who’ve never worked at the same table. It (RIFT) has really galvanized people.”

O’Day, who ran for a council seat two years ago as a SMRR opponent with the chamber’s backing, is sharing the chair’s post with Judy Abdo, a former mayor and SMRR leader.

The group, which has been meeting quietly as a committee for about two months, has been raising money to defeat RIFT. Save Our City also has hired political consultant Barbara Grover to run its campaign.

Save Our City must counter RIFT’s emotionally-driven campaign that touts the measure as a way to fight traffic, O’Day said. The group will use information from a report commissioned by the council that analyzes the impacts of the measure, O’Day said.

“It’s a single broad-brush solution to a complex problem that won’t work,” said O’Day, who is executive director of Environment Now. “It doesn’t impact traffic but has a lot of unintended consequences.

“RIFT is so full of loopholes that the damage it will do to the city will be felt for years to come,” he said.

Among the unintended consequences of RIFT – which Save Our City calls “one of the most detrimental ballot measures in Santa Monica’s history” -- will be a $1-million-a-year reduction in City funding for the School District, according to the group’s leaders.

RIFT also would allow “massive development of expensive condos in already dense residential neighborhoods, displacing renters and further diminishing the city’s supply of affordable housing,” according to a statement released by the group Monday.

“It will tie the hands of non-profits, like the YMCA, that want to improve services to our youth community, and hospitals that want to improve medical care to residents through updating outpatient facilities and laboratories,” according to the group.

But it will take money and volunteers to counter RIFT’s message that curbing development will reduce traffic, O’Day said.

“It’s a complicated message, and it’s tricky,” he said. “We need real funding.”

O’Day said the group is “much broader” than the 25 to 30 members on the committee and counts on the support of “activists, teachers, parents, renters rights leaders, homeowners, environmentalists, historic preservationists, religious leaders and non-profits.”

Among the group’s supporters are former mayors Abdo, Nat Trives, Paul Rosenstein and Michael Feinstein and several members of the School and College boards.

Also opposing RIFT are the Police Officers and Firefighters unions, two of the most powerful political forces in local politics.

“Our children deserve better than RIFT. Renters deserve better than RIFT. Seniors deserve better than RIFT. RIFT is just too risky for Santa Monica,” O’Day said.


“This is a different group than we’ve ever seen before.” Terry O’Day




Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.
Footer Email icon