Monday is the first day to “pull papers” required to run for political office in Santa Monica.

Potential candidates for City Council, Rent Control Board, Santa Monica/Malibu Board of Education and Santa Monica College Board of Trustees must pay a $25 filing fee and complete the necessary paperwork including collecting 100 valid signatures of currently registered Santa Monica voters.

Documents and signatures can be filed at City Hall anytime through August 8 at 5:00 p.m.  Voters will then decide the winners for a number of local, county, state and federal races during the Nov. 4 General Election.

In three weeks, the powerful Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) organization will hold their annual convention (Sun., Aug. 3) at John Adams Middle School. SMRR members will vote on candidate endorsements for all local offices. Those receiving SMRR endorsements will have an almost sure lock on being elected.

The race for three City Council seats is the most interesting. Although they’ve not officially announced (as of this writing), incumbents Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor will likely seek reelection.  It is widely believed that Robert Holbrook will retire.

Recreation and Parks Commission Chair Phil Brock, former mayor and councilman Michael Feinstein, planning commissioner Richard McKinnon and attorney Frank Gruber have already announced their interest in being on the dais.

Planning Commissioners Susan Himmelrich and Jennifer Kennedy are expected to announce their run for council in the days ahead and will liven up the competition even more.

Over 70 percent of Santa Monica voters are renters. SMRR’s perennial message of “Vote for the SMRR Team because only SMRR protects you from eviction and preserves your low rents” is effective even if not true.

Despite claiming they’re protecting renters, SMRR’s leadership is oblivious to the flippers and investors who are buying up older buildings (mostly in the mid-city, multi-family neighborhoods), forcing out long-term rent-controlled tenants, rehabbing apartments and doubling or tripling rents.

SMRR’s primary goal of promoting a never-ending amount of “affordable” rental housing for future SMRR voters and new hotels for union workers is fueling Santa Monica’s development issue. Virtually all the thirty plus pending projects in the pipeline requiring City Hall approval are four to seven floor apartment buildings.

SMRR is not interested in controlling runaway development because key SMRR’s leaders welcome it as a source of revenue for a host of pet social issues such as subsidized low income housing, pre-school child care programs, homeless services/housing and other programs.

Enter UNITE HERE, Local 11. These hotel union members work hard to get SMRR candidates elected. In return, those elected back more new hotel construction and jobs — and a generous minimum wage base for hotel workers.  The combination of SMRR’s messaging and hundreds of campaign workers is extremely effective in getting supporters elected.

There is already a lot of political maneuvering to support persons seeking a coveted SMRR endorsement.

The grass-roots, slow-growth development group Residocracy.org. is working with neighborhood groups and other slow growth organizations to form a united coalition to back a roster of candidates. Many of those involved, including me, have joined SMRR and plan to vote our choices for endorsements at the convention which may or may not include candidates supported by SMRR’s entrenched leadership.

SMRR has also been derelict in dealing with restricting runaway development, balancing over development with real housing needs and solving our accelerating traffic and congestion problem. The coalition will back candidates who are willing to tackle the unpopular issues that SMRR has ignored or, in the case of overdevelopment, encouraged.

The two factions will battle it out at the convention — the secretive, old guard, SMRR leaders who are already trying to manipulate membership support for their own hand-picked choices and those advocating change and a new direction.

Denying pro-development O’Connor a SMRR endorsement is the primary goal of the coalition. Supporting McKeown and two other persons is the secondary strategy. The frontrunners for the two remaining SMRR council endorsements at the moment are Brock, Himmelrich and Kennedy.

 

Stay tuned, more to come.

 

Did I say, ‘Rush to develop?’

 

One of downtown’s largest, new, mixed-use projects was reviewed by the Planning Commission last Wednesday.  The proposed development at 500 Broadway/corner of Fifth Street is the site of the current Fred Segal store and rear surface parking lot. It was originally an ice skating rink back in the day.

The proposed development is yet another boxy, oversized, seven story (84 foot) mixed-use building consisting of 262 rental units, 39,600 square feet of ground floor retail space and a four-level subterranean parking garage to accommodate 577 vehicles and 463 bicycles.  The property owner/developer is DK Broadway, LLC.

But wait, there’s more. Directly across the street on the northeast corner of Broadway and Fifth Street is a pending mixed-use development proposed for a property occupied by Performance Bicycle.

This development from NMS Properties is a six floor (76 foot tall), 65 unit, mixed-use apartment building with 8,650 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial space and 154 subterranean parking spaces. 14 “very low” to “low” income units (which range from studios to three bedrooms) are included in the mix.

That places two new buildings, six and seven floors tall, where single floor retail structures are presently.  It also add 427 units of new housing and 731 new parking spaces to that single corner. Keep in mind that two, new, six floor hotels are under construction less than a block away at Fifth and Colorado.

 

 

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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