City Workers Back Council Incumbents, Oppose "T"
Back Council Incumbents, Oppose "T"
By Jorge Casuso
September 12 – The City Employees Union is sticking
with the status quo in the November local elections, backing the
four City Council incumbents and opposing a measure that would
throw a wrench into the City’s plans to guide development.
The Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees, which represents 1,500 non-sworn
municipal workers, will throw its clout behind Mayor Herb Katz and Council members
Richard Bloom, Ken Genser and Bobby Shriver.
“Each has demonstrated a commitment to providing the resources we employees
need to maintain the high level of customer service the residents of Santa Monica
expect,” said Lauralee Asch, the coalition’s representative.
Union leaders said it was important to retain council members who have been
grappling with key labor issues. The council, for example, is expected to vote
to hire workers who handle waste management and the municipal cemetery, as well
as additional maintenance workers to clean up the Downtown.
The union would like to see the workers hired in house, rather than contracted
from private firms, representatives of the group said.
“There are several issues coming up, particularly with contracting out,
and we didn’t see challengers who could learn fast enough to come up to
speed,” said Steve Belhumeuri, the coalition’s consultant. “We
want to keep (the work) in house.”
The union also voted to oppose Prop T, a measure that would cap most commercial
development in the city at 75,000 square feet a year for the next 15 years.
The measure, formerly known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic
(RIFT), would derail the City’s update of its Land Use and Circulation
Element (LUCE), a document that will guide development in the beachside City
for the next two decades.
The council voted in July to explore allowing developers to build
45 and 75 feet in select stretches of the city’s boulevards
by giving 10-foot height “bonuses” in exchange for
“public benefits.” (“Council
Goes with Ten-foot Bonus,” July 24, 2008)
“The group felt very strongly that the council is on top of the issue,”
Belhumeuri said. “They’ve given staff clear instructions.
“There’s a concern about forfeiting the work and time dedicated”
to updating the LUCE, which has been the subject of numerous meetings and workshops
during the past four years.
Prop T, Asch said, “negates years of public input and staff, Planning
Commission and City Council effort in drafting a new Land Use and Circulation
The coalition also voted to endorse a proposed update to Santa Monica's Utility
Users tax (UUT) on the November 4 ballot.