The local race for the California Assembly became a lot more interesting last week when Betsy Butler (D-53) from Marina del Rey officially announced her run in the newly redrawn 50th Assembly District.

The new 50th now includes Santa Monica, Brentwood, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Topanga, Agoura Hills, parts of Mid-Wilshire/Fairfax, Carthay Square, the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles plus West Hollywood and portions of Hollywood.

Butler is a moderate Democrat running against ultra-liberal, “social justice” activist Torie Osborn and progressive Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.

Published reports say Osborn leads fundraising with $255,830 in campaign funds, Butler has $134,507 remaining in her campaign chest from her previous Assembly run and Bloom has raised $133,415.

Osborn has received endorsements by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) co-founder Denny Zane, former State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, our termed-out Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Congresswoman Karen Bass, according to Osborn’s campaign website.

Among Osborn’s union supporters are Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s “union pit bull” Brian D’Arcy (business manager of IBEW Local 18) and the California Nurses Association.

Butler’s endorsees (according to her website) include Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John Pérez, who has apparently promised to produce $2 million in campaign support, L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, along with Julia Brownley, who endorsed Osborn earlier.

Bloom has endorsements from the Santa Monica police and firefighter associations, the mayors of Malibu, Culver City and Beverly Hills along with many SMRR members on Santa Monica City Council, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College Board of Trustees.

I e-mailed Brownley and asked why she endorsed both Osborn and Butler. As of my Friday deadline, she had not responded.

It will be interesting to see if and how many Osborn and Bloom endorsees “jump ship” and swim toward Butler’s boat, so to speak.

It would also appear that Bloom’s dream of cruising to Sacramento has been mortally struck by a Butler iceberg. It’ll remain to be seen if his campaign sinks like the Titanic. But, there’s always City Council if Assembly doesn’t float. Bloom will still have plenty of time to announce he’s diving into the council race for a fifth term.

Curing Walgreens ills

A new Walgreens Drug Store planned for the corner of Lincoln and Pico boulevards is before the Planning Commission for public review Wednesday night at City Hall.

Problems abound with this project.

Because there will be no parking lot driveway on Lincoln, shoppers must use Lincoln Court to access the Walgreens 30-vehicle parking lot. Refuse and deliveries will also be in the alley — a mere 38 feet from the nearest residence. The result: dramatically increased alley traffic and noise that will negatively impact the numerous families living across the alley.

The project’s staff report discloses that Walgreens plans to be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with an option to expand to “24 hours” in the future. Around-the-clock hours will create even more traffic issues and substantially more noise, especially at night. To avoid the possibility that Walgreens may go back to Planning Commission a few years down the road and ask for 24-hour operation while nobody is looking, this whole “open 24 hours” notion must be permanently tabled.

Walgreens is requesting an off-sale beer and wine conditional use permit (CUP) from City Hall. If granted, Walgreens will apply to the state for a required off-sale Type 20 Alcoholic Beverage Control license. But, there are already five alcohol licenses in a 500 foot radius of the location, two of them are off sale.

The high concentration of alcohol outlets has already affected this neighborhood which, is home to two high schools, a youth center, halfway houses and sober living centers, in addition to many families.

The neighborhood already has problems with inebriates. Fears are that if the store sells alcohol, alcohol-related calls to police will increase. The Santa Monica Police Department opposes alcohol sales as does planning staff. Therefore, commissioners must scotch any alcohol CUP request.

While it appears that the Planning Commission will approve some new retail project at this location, commissioners must impose serious restrictions to minimize the many negative impacts this Walgreens development could inflict on its neighbors.

Roar for your breakfast

Just a reminder, The Santa Monica Lion’s Club is hosting its annual pancake breakfast, this coming Saturday, Sept. 24, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. It’s only $3 per person for great “cooked to order” pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, coffee, milk and juice. Free beverage refills and door prizes, too. Where? Boys & Girls Club, 1238 Lincoln Blvd. Stay hungry, my friends.

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