By now you have probably seen the signature gatherers suggesting that they can end traffic with their so-called LUVE initiative. The initiative would require that almost any proposed development above 32-feet tall be forced to go to a vote of the people. Simply put, this would be a disaster for our community. Even the most uncontroversial, midscale projects-schools, nonprofits, churches, mixed-use housing with included affordable housing-would not be exempt.

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has reviewed this initiative closely. We want to inform our membership and our community why we have voted unanimously to strongly oppose it.

The measure’s proponents will have an easy job gathering signatures, which will not be hard to do especially when ending traffic is promised. But we want to make sure that our community is informed and prepared to discuss the initiative leading up to November, when we are confident that most of our community will vote “no” and prove that Santa Monica is truly an inclusive city willing to accept its responsibility to plan for the future.  We hope you will carefully review our concerns and encourage you to share them with your friends and neighbors.

LUVE hurts our local economy

Business and property owners fund the vast majority of city services through local taxes. LUVE would result in a stagnant, if not declining economy, and would reduce our city’s tax revenue. As a result city services would need to be cut and there would be pressure to raise taxes, impacting both businesses and consumers.

LUVE hurts traffic

LUVE would lock Santa Monica in the very land use pattern (sprawling suburbs) that created our regional traffic nightmare. Metro has wisely been making substantial investments in an expanded alternative transportation network (Expo opens to Santa Monica May 20), but LUVE would destroy the potential to realize a more sustainable, traffic-reduced future. The only proven way to improve our traffic problem is to provide more housing near our jobs-for people at all income levels-and encourage more people to give up driving their cars in exchange for alternate modes of transportation like walking, biking, transit and rideshare.

LUVE hurts residents and property owners 

Most of the existing buildings, including apartments, condominiums, hotels and many offices, in the City are not consistent with the standards included in the current Zoning Ordinance, which was adopted in 2015. The Zoning Ordinance protects existing nonconforming buildings and provides a process for them to be rebuilt in the event of fire, earthquake or other damage or destruction. For most existing buildings, LUVE would likely require a vote of the people merely to repair/restore them in the event of a casualty.

LUVE hurts non-profits, schools, hospitals and religious institutions

LUVE does not include an exception for non-profits, schools, hospitals or religious institutions, which are all important members of our Santa Monica community.  Many non-profits, schools, hospitals and religious institutions operate in facilities taller than 32-feet. Requiring a longer approval process and a vote of the people would curtail the ability of these institutions to provide needed services in our community.

LUVE hurts our housing shortage crisis 

LUVE would exacerbate an already serious housing shortage crisis that is driving the cost of housing ever higher. It would further limit the opportunities for both low and middle-income residents-service workers, teachers, nurses, and city and nonprofit employees-from being able to afford to live in Santa Monica. LUVE supporters claim that the initiative contains exemptions for affordable housing projects but these exemptions are meaningless when there is no funding available for such projects. The only affordable housing built in recent years has been included in market-rate projects.

LUVE hurts employers and their workforce

The housing and transportation impacts mentioned above would also increase strain on our business community, which seeks to attract a talented workforce to an area that is increasingly unaffordable and traffic-locked. Further, LUVE would make it even more difficult for our creative tech startups to be able to stay in Santa Monica as they grow.

LUVE hurts our city by putting us at risk of expensive lawsuits

In the cities where similar measures have passed, very few projects ever go to a ballot because the process is so expensive. Those cities are left stumbling to meet their state required and much needed housing numbers. The City of Encinitas has been sued multiple times since they passed the comparable Prop A in 2013.

LUVE hurts us all

We strongly oppose LUVE because it attacks the economic, environmental, housing, social, and transportation-related goals the Chamber has adopted for our diverse and inclusive city. Even some of our most development-cautious council members are already speaking out against it. No matter which side of the development debate you are on, LUVE hurts Santa Monica.

– Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce