Developers Bankroll Prop T Opposition
By Jorge Casuso
October 9 -- Thanks to large contributions from major
developers, opponents of a local ballot measure to cap commercial
development have raised nearly half a million dollars, some five
times more than supporters have raised to launch and wage their
campaign, according to The Lookout's analysis of campaign
finance disclosure statements filed this week.
Save Our City -- which is comprised of a broad-based coalition
of community leaders -- has raised $428,880 to oppose Measure
T, an initiative on the November 4 ballot that would cap most
commercial development in the beachside city at 75,000 square
feet a year for 15 years.
While more than 70 contributors have given money, developers,
architects and their representatives accounted for a total of
$411,518, or 96 percent of all contributions made to the campaign
to date, according to finance statements filed for the reporting
period ending September 30.
Most of the money has come from five national developers who
have each given to date between $45,000 and $50,000, the limit
before a contributor’s name must appear on campaign literature.
The five developers are Hines ($49,500), Belle Vue Plaza ($49,500),
Equity Office ($45,000), Falcor Lodging Trust ($45,000) and Stockbridge
Real Estate Fund ($45,000).
Also making large contributions were Macerich ($30,000); Village
Trailer Park ($20,000) and Roberts Business Park ($20,000).
Most of the major contributors are out-of-state companies that
own large parcels of prime real estate, some of it slated for
By contrast, the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, which
is the sponsor of the ballot measure also known as the Residents’
Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) had raised $86,898 by October
1. About $30,000 of that was used to write the measure and gather
the signatures needed to qualify it for the ballot.
Opponents of the measure have spent $344,930, according to the
finance statements.. The money has been used for slate mailers,
to conduct phone polls, to pay rent for a campaign headquarters
and to hire two campaign consultants. Money has also been used
to hire seven canvassers who are going door to door and to print
and mail fliers.
Save Our City has $98,785 of cash in hand, according to the finance
By contrast, supporters of the measure have spent about $92,
372 and reported $15,363 in unpaid bills. They money has been
used to print and mail flyers, print lawn signs, pay rent for
the campaign headquarters and to hire a part-time campaign consultant.
Some of the major contributors to the campaign to oppose RIFT
own prime real estate Downtown near the ocean, according to an
analysis of the disclosure statements.
Falcor Lodging Trust, the Irving, Texas-based company that has
contributed $45,000 owns the 132-room Holiday Inn on Colorado
near Ocean Avenue.
Belle Vue Plaza, which has given $49,500 to date, owns a large
parcel on the 100 block of Santa Monica Boulevard a block from
Palisades Park, while the Stockbridge Real Estate Fund, which
has contributed $45,000, owns two landmark buildings on Ocean
Avenue on the same block.
Stockbridge, which is based in San Francisco, plans to build
a 73-room hotel on the site, which faces Palisades Park
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel, which is also across from the beachfront
park, has donated $25,873 to the effort, most of it in “in
kind” donations for use of its facility. The hotel’s
owners have floated a plan to add a tower, but have withdrawn
Another contributor with plans to build along Santa Monica’s
coast is Trammell Crow, which has contributed $6,150. The real
estate giant plans to tear down a rent control building on Ocean
Avenue and replace it with 25 luxury oceanfront condos, a project
that is currently before the Landmarks Commission. ("Tenants
Hope Late Mayor Can Save Building," August 25, 2008)
The other major contributors to RIFT’s opposition own land
in Santa Monica’s industrial lands near the city’s
eastern border, where City officials are steering development.
Hines, a San Francisco-based company that has given $49,500,
owns the former Papermate site on Olympic Boulevard in the industrial
corridor, where the company plans to build 300,000 square feet
of office space on the seven-acre site. Hines recently expanded
its Lantana entertainment complex nearby.
Roberts Business Park, which has contributed $20,000, owns the
property next to the site of a proposed 150,000-square-foot entertainment
and post-production facility for Lionsgate in the city's industrial
Has Paws on New Entertainment Studio,” December 18, 2007)
Contributing $20,000 to RIFT’s opposition was Village Trailer
Park, which is currently negotiating a development agreement with
the City to replace one of Santa Monica's two remaining trailer
parks with a more than 350-unit complex near the city’s
industrial area. (“Part
I: Relocation Offer Raises Fears Among Trailer Park Tenants,”
May 29, 2008 and
"Tenants Hope Late Mayor Can Save Building," August
Equity Office, the Chicago-based company that has given $45,000,
is one of the largest commercial landlords in the city and owns
the industrial park on Ocean Park Boulevard near the Santa Monica
Save Our City has paid Equity Office $8,716 in rent for its campaign
headquarters at the industrial park.
Also contributing to the campaign were Macerich, the Santa Monica-based
mall owner which has given $30,000 to oppose RIFT. The company
has embarked on an ambitious remodel of Santa Monica Place, the
indoor mall in Downtown Santa Monica. ("Tour
Showcases Mall Metamorphosis," August 7, 2008)
Donating $10,000 to the ant-Rift campaign was Maxeer and Company,
which recently filed a proposal to convert the landmark office
tower at 710 Wilshire to a 256-room hotel and add a wing with
16 residential units and hotel rooms. Negotiations for the project,
which calls for retail on the ground floor and 480 subterranean
parking spaces, have been put on hold, planning officials said.
Also contributing $10,000 each were the The Edward Thomas Management
Company, which owns two luxury beachfront hotels and a large adjoining
surface lot, and Lexus Santa Monica, a Santa Monica auto dealership.
Land use attorney Chris Harding’s firm, which often represents
developers in the city, donated $24,000 to the campaign, $14,000
in "in kind" legal services.