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Ballot Measure Campaigns Top $1.1 Million

Phil Brock For Council 2014

Sue Himmelrich

Paid for by the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees (CSMCE).  Not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.

Airport Measure

Michael Feinstein for Santa Monica City Council 2014

Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City CouncilRichard Bloom for State Assembly 2014Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

October 29, 2014 -- This has been an expensive campaign to get ballot measures approved or rejected in Santa Monica. The latest financial disclosures from the City Clerk’s Office show more than $1.1 million has been raised for the campaigns for and against two related airport measures and two related real estate tax proposals.

The big money team is the one behind the pro-airport Measure D and opposing the City Council-created Measure LC. It has raised more than $808,000 as of this week. Nearly $500,000 of that money has come from two aviation interest groups.

The Baltimore-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has contributed more than $274,000 another $225,000 has come from the Washington D.C.-based National Business Aviation Association.

If approved, Measure D would require nearly all proposed changes to the Santa Monica Airport property to go before the voters. This includes full or partial closure, but also less drastic moves. Opponents, including City officials, say this would tie the council’s hands.

In response to Measure D getting on the November ballot through a successful petition drive, the council voted unanimously to place the rival Measure LC on the ballot.

If approved, it would leave many airport decisions in the hands of the council, but voters would have a say on the general concept of what could be built on the airport property if the facility were to close -- fully or partially.

The main group behind Measure LC has raised more than $110,000. There are two other groups listed on the City’s website that have spent small sums of money in opposition to Measure D and in favor of Measure LC. They are No Jets - Yes on LC No on D and the interestingly named Committee for More Park, Less Runway, and Saying Adieu to the Jets.

If both measures pass next week, the one that receives the most votes will go into effect, municipal legal observers say. However, most people acknowledge that the big question in all of this --whether and when the airport could close -- will be decided in a courtroom, possibly many years from now.

Two other measures that have captured big money attention are H and HH. Measure H calls for an increase to the tax on real estate transactions of at least $1 million from $3 per $1,000 to $9 per $1,000.

Measure HH says the money earned through the tax hike should support Santa Monica’s affordable housing program, although it is only an advisory proposal.

The California Association of Realtors is funding the entire opposition campaign. It has given $162,000 to the committee known as Santa Monicans against Ridiculous Taxes as of October 23.

But real estate -- as well as hotel and development -- interests are also supporting the campaign in favor of Measures H and HH. More than $85,000 has been raised as of this week.

The City Council voted 5 to 1 (Terry O’Day was not in attendance and Bob Holbrook opposed) in July to place the measures on the ballot as recommended by City staff.

Andy Agle, Santa Monica’s director of housing and economic development, has said the City’s money for affordable housing projects is drying up due to the 2012 dissolution of the redevelopment agency.

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