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LUVE Initiative Heads to Santa Monica City Council

Downtown Meeting June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 9, 2016 -- The first vote on a proposal from the slow-growth activist group Residocracy that would place a significant number of Santa Monica development decisions in the hands of residents is expected to take place on Tuesday.

City Council members are scheduled to make one of three possible decisions on the measure known as the the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative.

Because Residocracy collected the required number of signatures on a petition, the council is limited to three options: approving the measure, placing it on the November ballot or asking City staff to “conduct a study on its possible impacts.”

If the majority votes for the third option, the study must be completed by the July 12 council meeting. Then at that meeting, the council would vote on whether to approve the measure or send it to the ballot.

The possibility of council members approving the LUVE Initiative on Tuesday or next month is not high, since even members of the City’s governing panel who lean slow-growth have issues with the measure (“Proposed LUVE Initiative Getting Little Support from Santa Monica Council Members,” March 9, 2016).

Council members could also be considering a rival measure for the ballot (“Santa Monica Council Members Could Consider Initiative to Counter LUVE,” March 10, 2016).

The likely scenario that the council places the LUVE Initiative on the ballot rather than approving it would not be an unusual one. Most often, this is the council’s response when it receives a valid petition.

A rare exception took place two years ago when Residocracy presented a petition challenging the council’s approval of the Bergamot Transit Village development (Hines project), signed by more than 13,000 residents.

The majority of the council decided to reverse the decision rather than send the issue to the voters (“Council Repeals Approval of Controversial Development,” May 14, 2014).

The LUVE Initiative calls for voters to have the final say on most developments taller than 32 feet and any project involving a development agreement. There is an exemption for “100 percent affordable housing projects of 50 units or less.”

Also requiring voter approval would be changes to City planning policies such as zoning laws, district maps and neighborhood plans.

“Residents need a voice!” Residocracy states on the LUVE Initiative information section of its website. “LUVE will ensure that we have one. How much development is right for Santa Monica? LUVE will let voters decide.”

The website also says, “Elected officials and City staff have ignored resident concerns about overdevelopment for far too long while catering to developer interests.”

LUVE Initiative critics say it would make it harder to build what they consider to be much-needed projects for housing, especially affordable housing. There is also a concern that it would lead to many big-money elections.

The LUVE Initiative "appears to give developers the ability to initiate special elections, where they can pour unlimited corporate financing into local low-turnout balloting,” Councilmember Kevin McKeown told The Lookout in March.

There are at least two formal opposition campaigns against the measure (“Campaigns Against Santa Monica’s LUVE Initiative Form,” May 25, 2016).

Residocracy says it is ready for a big campaign, having raised $30,000 as of June 1. Initiative co-author Tricia Crane told The Lookout that Residocracy expects to raise much more money.

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