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Groups Battle Over RIFT

By Jorge Casuso

October 22 – While the battle over Prop T is essentially pitting special interest groups and neighborhood organizations, both sides are capturing dissenting voices to drive home their points.

An October 16 mailer from opponents of Prop T -- which would cap most commercial development in Santa Monica at 75,000 square feet a year over the next 15 years -- quoted the only dissenting board member of a neighborhood group that supports the measure.

"I studied the traffic analysis. Measure T won’t reduce traffic," the Friends of Sunset Park board member is quoted as saying in the mailer opposing the measure.

Meanwhile, supporters of Prop T, also known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT), are touting a letter from the dissenting steering committee member of the Community for Excellent Public Schools, (CEPS), an education group that opposes RIFT. ("CEPS Backs Incumbents, Opposes 'T,'" October 6, 2008)

“CEPS' opposition will alienate community members who have trusted our leadership and given us broad-based strength in pushing the City to do the right thing for our schools,” Rochelle Fanali wrote in her resignation letter to the committee. (see letter)

CEPS is one of half a dozen special interest groups that have opposed the measure, a coalition that also includes local chapters of unions representing police, fire fighters, teachers, municipal employees and hotel and restaurant employees.

“RIFT is opposed by the broadest coalition in our city’s history,” reads a statement on the web site hosted by opponents of the measure. Opponents also include “homeowners and renters, social service and religious leaders, and nurses and doctors.”

On the other hand, Prop T counts on the support of the City’s neighborhood groups -- Friends of Sunset Park, the North of Montana Association, the Ocean Park Association, the Pico Neighborhood Association and the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition

“Remember that Measure T was put on the ballot by more than 10,000 Santa Monica voters who acted because their pleas for a slowdown in development and traffic growth were being ignored,” said Zina Josephs, the president of Friends of Sunset Park, referring to the total number of signatures gathered.

As the race enters its final two weeks, supporters of the measure are using what remains of the $92,000 they raised by October 1 and any subsequent funds raised to make phone calls and send out two mailers.

By contrast, opponents, who had in hand nearly $100,000 of the $428,000 they had raised by October 1, are focusing on full-color mailers sent to every Santa Monica household.

One of the mailers features State senator Sheila Kuehl, who opposed the measure two weeks ago and a middle school teacher.

According to informed sources from both camps, the race is too close to call.

Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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