The Real Deal Los Angeles

Santa Monica ballot initiative calls for popular vote on all projects over two stories

Land Use Voter Empowerment initiative would require all developments taller than 32 feet to get green light from local residents

June 03, 2016 10:30AM

  • Print
Councilmember Kevin McKeown and houses in Santa Monica (credit: McKeown, City-Data.com)

Councilmember Kevin McKeown and houses in Santa Monica (credit: McKeown, City-Data.com)

The fate of new Santa Monica developments could rest in the hands of local residents if one advocacy group gets its way.

An initiative called Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE), which would decree that new structures taller than two stories could only be approved by popular vote, has gathered the 6,500 signatures required to appear on SaMo’s November ballot, according to Santa Monica Next. The only exemption would be in the case of affordable housing developments.

The group behind the bill is Residocracy, a community organization that describes itself as a “unified voice of the residents against corporate, business, and outside influences at City Hall.”

Although the measure will appear on the ballot, its chances of being approved look slim, Santa Monica Next said. Even Councilmembers who formerly allied with Residocracy say the the initiative is too extreme and that it would drive developers to campaign for their projects, thereby favoring developers with the deepest pockets.

The initiative “dissuades all kinds of moderate-sized projects, including housing,” Councilmember Kevin McKeown told SaMo Next. “We need housing, and we don’t need more developer influence on our politics.”

A much softer initiative aimed to curb commercial development — Measure T — was defeated by voters in 2008. Since 2000, eight measures have made it to the ballot via signature gathering. Only two were successful.

Meanwhile, over in L.A. city, voters will be deciding on a housing-related ballot measure of their own. The Build Better L.A. initiative would require developers seeking zoning changes to build affordable units within their large projects. The Neighborhood Integrity Iniative, which seeks to severly limit residential development, is waiting until next year’s less-crowded ballot. [Santa Monica Next]Cathaleen Chen