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MY WRITE — This election, three City Council seats are up for grabs. Incumbents Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor are running for their fifth and sixth terms respectively. Bob Holbrook is retiring.

A divided Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) opened the doors for a horse race. With SMRR members unable to reach a consensus for endorsements at its convention in August, members of SMRR’s Steering Committee finally endorsed McKeown and Planning Commissioners Jennifer Kennedy and Sue Himmelrich. Mayor Pam O’Connor was passed over.

SMRR endorsements are key because, with over seventy percent of the voters being renters, SMRR’s mailers pack a punch.

Unite Here union leadership endorsed McKeown and attorney Frank Gruber. It’ll be interesting to see how much campaigning the hospitality union does for SMRR’s candidates this election when they only have one endorsement in common.

The slow-growth Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City endorsed Himmelrich, McKeown and Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon.

Residocracy, the slow growth residents group that successfully stopped the Hines mega-project last spring, polled on-line to come up with its three endorsements. The winners are Recreation and Parks Chair Phil Brock followed by McKeown and Himmelrich.

Most of thecity’s labor bargaining units, including a number of municipal employee unions, endorsedO’Connor,McKeown, and former City Councilman Michael Feinstein. The Police and Firefighters unions backed McKeown, O’Connor and Gruber.

I’m hearing complaints that (in most cases) the various leaderships decided who their unions should endorse — behind closed doors. The rank and file weren’t even polled. This means some union endorsements went to candidates not favored by their own members. Democracy at work?

Checking out the candidates. I like that McKeown communicates with his constituency because most other councilpersons don’t, but I’m weary of his incessant social engineering and obsession with more and more housing (development) that doesn’t benefit residents and creates traffic and other problems.

I’m bothered by his recent support for a developer’s proposal for a 148-foot tall, multi-use building with a hotel and affordable housing on city property at 4th/5th and Arizona where most residents want a maximum 84 foot height.

Sue Himmelrich is an advocate for very low-income housing. When it comes to overly-large developments, I feel she’ll be quick to approve them if they have minimal affordable housing components. Problem is, unless we get housing growth under control, we’ll never get over-development under control.

Jennifer Kennedy’s claim to fame isfifteen years of volunteering for SMRR. She’s been well rewarded for her service by her party’s cronies with anappointment to planning commission and now, an endorsement for council. None of this qualifies her for a council seat and tells me that she’ll just be another SMRR Steering Committee order-taker on the dais.

McKinnon is unrealistic when it comes to solving traffic and parking issues. He thinks that “embracing new alternative transport” (getting people out of cars, onto bicycles, to walk or ride the bus) will resolve traffic congestion and make streets safer. We need real solutions to problems not wishful thinking and guesswork.

Frank Gruber is pro-development and has rebranded himself as a champion of labor. A recent phone poll conducted by Unite Here revealed that few voters would vote for Gruber and I’ll bet that the union leaders are regretting his endorsement. If elected (which seems unlikely), he, like O’Connor, will be a sure vote for lots more development.

O’Connor is 100 percent backed by developers and unions.

My only choice for City Council is Phil Brock. He has no “agenda’ and is not indebted to labor unions or other special interests. His approach is from a practical, common sense point of view, not about social engineering or misguided, pie-in-the-sky experiments in Utopian living.

We desperately need an alternative or second voice on council because the only voice we’ve heard in this town for most of the last 35 years is that of the Renters’ Rights party and look where that’s got us.

Brock’s on record as advocating for a slow and measured growth. Best of all, he’s for us and says that “the residents must come first” — not hotel or city employee’s unions, City Hall staff, developers, special interests, etc. That’s exactly what a councilman should be. Brock has my vote, my only vote.

Fly away, please

There’s been a lot of press about Santa Monica Airport (SMO) and frankly, I’m bored to death with it as are most folks living north of Ocean Park Boulevard.

It’s too bad that the inflated rhetoric on the airport has distracted from the real issue this election: development. Some observers say that as long as SMO hijacks the public’s attention, pro-development candidates running for council will benefit, thus jeopardizing Santa Monica’s future.

The Feds or the courts will determine whether SMO will operate as a general aviation airport ‚Äì a decision that probably won’t be made for decades ‚Äì if ever. Nevertheless there are two airport-related propositions on the November ballot.

Measure D would require a vote of the people for any major aviation-related changes or restrictions imposed at the airport. This is micro-managing at its worst and deserves a “No” vote.

Measure, LC would prohibit new development on airport land (except for parks or recreational facilities) and requires voter approval on limits to uses and new development. It also affirms City Council’s authority to manage SMO including closing all or part of it. This should also be shot down.

If both measures are defeated, the status quo remains which is “OK” for now.

Bill can be reached atmr.bilbau@gmail.com

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