Santa Monica ballot measure would make it tougher to develop taller buildings

Projects would need Council supermajority for approval, if referendum passes

Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown and buildings in Santa Monica
Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown and buildings in Santa Monica

Developing tall and dense buildings in Santa Monica will get tougher if voters approve a Nov. 6 local ballot measure.

While many will be fixed on the outcome of the statewide Proposition 10 rent control measure, Santa Monica’s referendum could have an immiediate impact on development.

Called Measure SM, it would require developers who want to exceed height and density limits in the seaside city to get the support of five of seven City Council members, instead of just four, according to Curbed.

Santa Monica is already a tough place to develop large projects. The city approvals process can drag on, like it has at the Miramar Hotel, which the owner has been trying to redevelop for five years. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Many previous high-profile projects in Santa Monica have usually received the support earned of just four council members, said Council member Kevin McKeown, who co-sponsored the measure and is seeking re-election.

If Measure SM is approved, those same projects would have been rejected.

“Measure SM eliminates those squeakers that previously got through on the barest majority vote,” he said, according to Curbed. “It is significantly more difficult for a developer to earn that fifth vote to go beyond our adopted plans.”

The measure has exceptions for 100 percent affordable projects and projects on school district properties.

Developments that have already been proposed would not be affected. [Curbed] – Dennis Lynch