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Kuehl Opposes Prop T, Fears Measure Would Displace Renters

By Lookout Staff

October 1 – State Senator Sheila Kuehl, the highest-ranking Santa Monica State official, has joined a growing number of opponents of Prop T, saying it will not help reduce traffic.

Kuehl said the measure – which would cap most commercial development in the beachside city at 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years -- will encourage developers to replace rent-controlled units with market-rate apartments and condominiums.

“Measure T could actually jeopardize the dwindling supply of affordable housing that so many of us have worked hard over the years to protect,” Kuehl wrote in a statement released Monday.

“Measure T would have the effect of allowing, and even encouraging, landlords to demolish affordable apartments and displace renters, in order to build the only unfettered development under the Measure, thereby putting our community’s working families and seniors at much greater risk,” Kuehl said.

The State Senator, who lives in Santa Monica, sided with opponents who argue there is no empirical evidence to show that building less commercial development would reduce future traffic congestion.

“I've concluded that it would not actually reduce traffic, and is, therefore, not the answer to a real problem that requires a real solution,” Kuehl said.

Formerly known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT), Prop T has been opposed by every major local group that has taken a position on the measure.

They include all the major local public unions, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the School and College boards. (“Police, Firefighters Back Council Incumbents, Oppose ‘T,’ September 19, 2008)

Two groups -- Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) and the Santa Monica Democratic Club -- did not take a position at their endorsement sessions.

Last week, the Democratic Club failed to take a position when its meeting ended before the members could take a vote. (“Dem Club Fails to Take Stance on Prop T,” September 26, 2008)

At its August convention, SMRR voted not to make an endorsement, although it voted to retain its usual procedures and allow its steering committee to take a position. (“Divided SMRR Stays Neutral on RIFT,” August 3, 2008)

The only major group to back RIFT is the LA County Democratic Party. (“County Dems Back Three Council Incumbents, Challenger,” September 10, 2008)

Joining Kuehl this week in opposing Measure T were HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union, and Sue Edwards, the widow of former mayor, Ken Edwards.

In addition to arguing the measure will not fight traffic and could reduce affordable housing, opponents also contend Prop T will potentially curb future general fund revenues that could be used for education and public safety. ("Prop T Stirs Debate," September 23, 2008)

Instead, opponents argue that the proposed update to the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) is a more effective way to fight traffic by concentrating larger mixed-use buildings near public transit in exchange for “community benefits.”

Supporters don’t buy the argument that Prop T will hurt the City’s ability to provide quality services, noting that the City’s budget is now more than half a billion dollars and that it will likely continue to grow.

They also counter that the measure will not deplete affordable housing because the mixed-use projects being built across the City contain little commercial space and, consequently, would use up little of the allocated square footage under Prop T.

Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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