CITY HALL — City officials confirmed Wednesday that they would no longer work with traffic and circulation consultant Jeffrey Tumlin after comments on an online biography proved even more controversial than the parking policies he espoused.
In the bio, Tumlin wrote that Santa Monica politics “had been dominated by NIMBYs who used traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development.” The reference, indeed the entire section on Santa Monica, had been removed as of Wednesday.
The comment spurred outrage amongst residents, who called for Tumlin’s dismissal. Additionally, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, or SMCLC, wrote an adjoining letter expressing distaste for Tumlin’s parking policies, which involve building less parking than currently required for new development and opening up existing lots to increase supply in some areas.
The net effect would be to drive down costs of development, and therefore the price of housing, and ostensibly cause fewer car trips by attracting fewer cars based on the premise that you will not drive where you cannot park.
The theory is embraced by planning professionals, although it constitutes “a huge transition,” said Juan Matute, of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, in January when Tumlin’s proposal first ricocheted through Santa Monica.
That holds little water for Santa Monicans aghast that large amounts of new development could ever result in the “no new net PM trips” promise enshrined in the 2010 Land Use and Circulation Element, a planning document that is supposed to dictate development in Santa Monica for decades to come.
“Mr. Tumlin’s central premise — that new development would yield no additional traffic — is an unsound prediction without basis,” SMCLC wrote. “It is fanciful social experimentation, embraced only by developers.”
It’s unclear if those unpopular ideas will exit along with Tumlin.
City Hall is not releasing his firm, Nelson\Nygaard, said Kate Vernez, deputy city manager for special projects.
For his part, Tumlin expressed regret over the comments, and apologized to the community.
“My comment was neither thoughtful nor respectful, and I have failed to live up to the standards set by the city. For that, I deeply apologize,” Tumlin said.