Bill Bauer’s 5/19/14 column pointed out two interesting facts that are relevant to the process of political influences in our city.¬† He states “Speaking of City Hall’s response to the citizens, it’s pretty obvious that developers, their land-use attorneys and especially their lobbyists seem to have a louder voice and greater influence on city policy and decisions than any and all groups of residents combined.” He then discusses the use of Kim Karie and the Karie Group as a ‘lobbyist” and “a regular fixture at City Hall” representing developers and local businesses.
In the LUCE, which we are told is the culmination of six years of planning, community meetings, and resident input, it was established that auto dealerships were restricted to ‘auto row’ on Santa Monica Blvd. But because of such influence as Bauer mentions, the dealers were allowed, in the LUCE, to expand only onto the east side of Lincoln, north of the freeway.
It seems that the dealers may have moved too slowly in acquiring property north of the freeway and lost out to some of those ‘other’ developers. They are now attempting to exert influence, much as Bauer outlined in his column, in order to move south of the freeway where new dealership use is not permitted. So the influence machine is out there working its way around City Hall, trying to influence various ex-politician residents in the Ocean Park and Sunset Park neighborhoods. One such person making contact is the sister of Kim Karie, Cheryl Richardson, of the aforementioned Karie Group.
The Karie Group has put out feelers about relocating a new car dealership onto Lincoln south of the freeway. They’ve stated that the dealer had already purchased the site at 2700 Lincoln Blvd. It would seem that one would have to have a very high degree of confidence to have already purchased the land knowing it would require a change in the LUCE, when the LUCE is very specific in its stated goal of decreasing auto related services, and that new dealerships are not a permitted use on Lincoln Blvd. south of the I-10.
In addition, the Lincoln Blvd. Task Force, representing the three neighborhoods of Ocean Park, Sunset Park, and the Pico neighborhood, have been meeting with the City Planning Department for the past two years shaping street improvement criteria for Lincoln Blvd. This effort has yielded an analysis and critique of the proposed zoning changes, which does not include new dealerships as an allowable use. The Task Force also did an extensive survey of residents regarding desired improvements to Lincoln Blvd. The results were that traffic was the primary concern, followed by the need to reduce auto related businesses.
Yet here we are, faced with an effort by an auto dealer to thwart the will of the residents and their effort to clean up one of the least aesthetically pleasing streets in Santa Monica, by introducing a specific undesired use into our neighborhoods. We residents do not want auto dealerships on Lincoln south of the freeway. Can we be any more clear? Now is the time to clean up Lincoln Blvd., to honor the residents, and the LUCE, by reducing the number of auto related businesses, not adding more. I guess we will see if Bauer is correct, that residents are forced to the back of the bus while City Hall yields to the business lobby once again.
Bob Taylor, A.I.A.
Chair, LBTF Zoning Sub-Committee
Ocean Park Resident
Chair, Lincoln Blvd. Task Force
Ocean Park Resident
Sunset Park Resident
Gloria Garvin, PhD
Pico Neighborhood Association