The fountain at Ken Genser Square in front of City Hall reflects the sunset. (File photo)

Last Tuesday, our City Council received the Certification of Qualification for the Hines Bergamot Transit Village referendum that was recently circulated by and will act on it at its next meeting.

On May 13, council will have three choices: reverse its approval of the Hines development agreement, schedule a special election (at a cost of $200,000) and let the voters decide whether the development as approved stays or goes or put it on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 4, 2014.

The wisest decision would be to place it on the November ballot. But, doing that will guarantee this development agreement in particular and over-development in the city will be the lightning rod issues in the election this fall.

Three council persons are up for re-election: Bob Holbrook the sole non Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights-endorsed councilperson who voted for the project, Pam O’Connor who will run again and who supported the Hines project and Kevin McKeown who opposed the Bergamot Transit Village agreement and is also running. The presence of a ballot measure repealing the development agreement will not help Holbrook (if he runs) or O’Connor.

Allowing voters to decide the fate of the project takes power away from City Council and Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the controlling political organization that has six out of seven endorsees sitting on the dais. And, we all know SMRR hates to surrender power.

Also, by rescinding the agreement and sending Hines back to the drawing board to come up with a new proposal for the Paper Mate site on Olympic Boulevard, council can control their new proposal by suggesting changes — like more housing, less office space and more bicycle amenities — that may make it more palatable.

Is a revised Bergamot Transit Village going to be more acceptable to the public? It won’t be unless it’s sizably reduced in square footage and density as well as traffic impacts. Adding a couple dozen more affordable rental units without substantial reductions in scale won’t cut it.

If Hines is allowed to come back at some future date with a revised plan that does not fully address the issues and it’s approved by City Council, the referendum process may not work as well the second time around, which is why, no matter what, we have to elect two, new, slow growth council candidates this November and two more slow growth candidates in 2016.


Park it here


Last Tuesday night, City Council also unanimously approved the purchase of 350 new parking meters at a cost of $323,000 plus another $93,800 annually for repairs and maintenance.

Although many of the new meters will be placed on streets bordering The Broad Stage and Woodlawn Cemetery, staff has not indicated the additional locations where the meters may be placed.

Representatives of the various city neighborhood groups and members of the public were concerned that metered parking would infringe on their residential neighborhoods and asked that staff develop a complete list of locations before the expenditure was approved

But once again, City Hall runs roughshod over residents. The mantra is “mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.” After all, we’ve got to pay for repairing “Chain Reaction” somehow.

Staff sure doesn’t want pesky residents involved in what it thinks is best for us and our spineless City Council just does staff’s bidding. Would someone remind the council that they serve “us” not “them.”


In ‘Lieu’ of Waxman, part 2


Last week, I wrote that there were 21 candidates running for Rep. Henry Waxman’s seat for the 33rd Congressional District and that our current State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) didn’t deserve your vote for Congress. I wanted more time to evaluate the candidates.

Many candidates haven’t posted a lot of information on where they stood on major issues such as environment, supporting homeless veterans, entitlement programs, campaign reform, foreign policy, immigration and controlling taxation and spending among others.

Of the frontrunners, defense attorney David Kanuth looks interesting but aside from his stand on immigration reform there’s not much else on his website about the major issues and how he’s going to deal with them. On the other hand, former Los Angeles City Controller and Councilwoman Wendy Gruel has more information, a more detailed biography on her website and addresses many issues.

Radio talk show host Matt Miller wants to double teacher salaries from $65,000 to $150,000 and is for campaign reform. I’ve received a couple of glossy brochures from new age author Marianne Williamson that claim she’s the best qualified candidate to “correct our country’s course” and make change. She vows to not accept corporate or lobbyist money which is refreshing.

It’s frustrating, sitting here three weeks before the primary and really not know enough about those who want to represent us in Washington — except in the case of Ted Lieu where we already know too much.

Nevertheless, I’m going to go with Wendy Gruel. As a former Los Angeles City Controller, it would appear that she knows and understands big government budgeting process. Her work with former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley on homeless issues and with the Clinton administration on housing is impressive.

Gruel is a champion for women, a fighter for the environment and a strong advocate for transportation and traffic relief. Heck, maybe she can steer more federal money our way for transit initiatives.

She has an impressive list of endorsements, too, including actor/director Rob Reiner. Anyone the “Meathead” endorses is good enough for me.




Bill can be reached at

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