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Santa Monica Drops Traffic Consultant in Wake of “NIMBY” Controversy

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Lookout Staff

March 14, 2013 -- Santa Monica will no longer work with Traffic Consultant Jeff Tumlin after resident groups demanded the City drop him over comments made in his resume.

Tumlin became the center of controversy after it was discovered that he referred to Santa Monica politics as being dominated by NIMBYs, people who are generally opposed to development.

However, the City will continue to work with Tumlin's firm, Nelson/Nygaard. ("'NIMBY'" Moniker Has Santa Monica Groups Up in Arms," February 28)

“We do not expect to be using Tumlin's services in the future,” said City Manager Rod Gould. But, “the City retains full faith and confidence in his firm.

“We will probably call upon Nelson/Nygaard's expertise in the coming years,” he said.

Gould said that the decision to no longer work with Tumlin was made because the consultant had made himself into a “lightning rod” in town, which officials felt made him less effective in his role.

Tumlin, who had worked with the City since 2005, was currently assisting with drafing the City's new zoning ordinance.

He raised eyebrows when, in February, he and City staff presented a plan to the Planning Commission to reduce traffic in Santa Monica by reducing parking requirements in certain parts of the city.

In late February, the North of Montana Association (NOMA) and the Santa Monica Coalition for a Liveable City (SMCLC) began circulating an open letter to the City Council calling for the City to terminate its contract with Tumlin because of comments made on his resume.

According to SMCLC, the letter has garnered 600 signatures.

“For decades, Santa Monica politics had been dominated by NIMBYs who used traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development,” Tumlin wrote in his statement, which has since been removed from his resume.

“The city’s award-winning 2011 Land Use and Circulation Element update, however, commits to no net increase in vehicle trips, by locating all future growth near transit, establishing new neighborhood retail centers, imposing a multimodal transportation impact fee, and enacting more robust Transportation Demand Management requirements,” his statement continues.

Tumlin clarified his remarks later on, saying that he had written them several years ago and that he was trying to show how the discussion on development has changed in Santa Monica since 2005. ("Santa Monica Traffic Consultant Clarifies “NIMBY” Comment," March 1)

Still, some residents believe it wasn't enough.

SMCLC Co-Chair Diana Gordon said, “Mr. Tumlin has lost the trust of residents.”

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