An Extreme Reaction

Council Member Kevin McKeown’s letter to the editor (5/2/16) says that SMart in its column of 4/30/16 misrepresented City Manager Rick Cole’s words. We merely quoted Mr. Cole’s comments in a major speech that he gave before Downtown Santa Monica Inc. in August 2015. His words were published in this newspaper.

We admire Mr. Cole, and thought his speech that day was an appropriate reminder to our community that our sense of place, our uniqueness, our local flavor and our people are what make Santa Monica a special place.

To that end, we believe that excessively tall buildings will not help our city retain that special sense of place that our city manager spoke of. In his letter, Mr. McKeown distorts our words and that of the purpose of the Land Use Voter Empowerment Initiative.

The truth is LUVE is not anti-growth; it is pro-resident. It would retain that sense of place that Santa Monica already possesses. It would make it harder for our “slow-growth, anti-development” city council to obtain approval for projects like the proposed 12 story Plaza At Santa Monica. The distortions that our Council Member makes in his response are many. The initiative allows three story construction projects “by right” in our city and matches the base tier of our current zoning law. Today, any development over three stories requires a direct agreement between a developer and our City Council. LUVE changes these agreements to one between the developer and our residents. It is understandable that a city council member might oppose this change however we see the results of the existing failed policies throughout our city.

LUVE will not deprive us of additional housing as over 70 potential sites are exempt from the effects from the initiative. LUVE would protect renters as each and every new apartment development in Santa Monica has edged rents steadily higher. The retention of existing renters is a priority for the writers of the LUVE initiative. The outspoken early opposition to this initiative has been by developers who wish to exploit our higher height limits for their own financial profit.

We need to merely walk around our city to evaluate the results of our current “slow growth, anti-development” policies and whether or not they have been successful. Mr. McKeown states that he has supported every slow-growth measure in our city for the past 40 years. It’s time for him to support the one initiative that will work for the good of our residents and for Santa Monica.

Phil Brock & Ron Goldman
Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow