DOWNTOWN State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) is opposed to Measure T, an initiative on the November ballot that would put a cap on commercial development in an effort to relieve traffic congestion.
Kuehl, a resident of Santa Monica, joins a broad-based coalition opposed to the measure that include developers, architects as well as education officials and members of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the leading political party in the seaside city.
“After taking time to review the arguments, pro and con, for Measure T, I have decided to oppose it,” Kuehl said. “I’ve concluded that it would not actually reduce traffic, and is, therefore, not the answer to a real problem that requires a real solution.
“Secondly, though I’m sure the proponents didn’t intend this particular consequence, Measure T could actually jeopardize the dwindling supply of affordable housing that so many of us have worked hard over the years to protect,” the senator added.
“Measure T would have the effect of allowing, and even encouraging, landlords to demolish affordable apartments and displace renters, in order to build the only unfettered development under the measure, thereby putting our community’s working families and seniors at much greater risk.”
Measure T would amend the city’s General Plan through 2023 to established a city-wide annual limit on commercial development of 75,000 square feet, which would apply to the types of projects that require City Council or Planning Commission approval.
The measure would not apply to residential projects, parking, hospitals, schools, child and adult care, as well as government facilities. It would allow borrowing square footage from future years if the five-year average stays within the limit.
Supporters claim commercial development, such as the Water Garden complex, create more traffic and push out small, locally-owned businesses. By putting a cap on development, it is their belief that city officials will have the time to better manage traffic at a time when Santa Monica is overwhelmed.
Those opposed feel the measure will do nothing to impact traffic and could put funding in jeopardy because of a decrease in development fees.
Measure T has been endorsed by the five major neighborhood groups as well as the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and some local business owners.
Joining Kuehl in opposing Measure T are HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union, and Sue Edwards, widow of Santa Monica’s former mayor, Ken Edwards.