By John Thatcher

I’m sure that you have noticed the recent proliferation of people on the street with signs and flyers taped up in your neighborhood. Yes, election season is upon us again and there is concerted effort to gather signatures for the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) initiative.

It’s my view that the residents of Santa Monica should ignore this measure, as it appears to be a desperate run-around of local government and a measure which will only drive up housing prices, increase traffic and hurt the local economy.

The writers of the LUVE initiative appear to have a very negative view of our local government. I firmly believe that it is to our benefit that we live in a representative democracy with checks and balances.

Representative democracies do a much better job of ensuring that minority opinions are heard and reflected in the government. By stripping power away from our representatives and holding nearly every development over 32 feet tall to a vote, we are not allowing all parties to have a voice in the development process of our city.

Instead, only the majority of those who turn out to vote, and not necessarily the view of all of Santa Monica’s residents, will be expressed. My view is that the development of a city should reflect all those that live in it. By reverting to mob rule, we are shutting out diverse viewpoints on our city’s growth. That’s a shame, and it makes Santa Monica less representative of the people who live there.

People might disagree with the direction a city is taking, but we have a fantastic control over this: we get to throw the government out every couple of years.

You don’t like the view of certain members of our local government? Voice your views publicly and support the candidates that do. If enough people find your views compelling, your view will now help shape policy.

Secondly, the LUVE initiative is a great way for a small, politically active group to take control of the development process for the entire city. The United States has a well-publicized problem of low voter turnout in general elections, and it’s even worse in primaries.

The people who show up consistently — and in large numbers — tend to be smaller groups of voters representing more extreme views. If every large development requires a direct vote from the population, you can bet turnout will be laughably small and the same people who are highly invested in this measure will be the ones most likely to show up. The LUVE initiative will just further disenfranchise the views of most of the citizens in the city.

Last, LUVE is bad from a fundamental economic sense, and will only make the housing crisis worse.

Almost everyone is familiar with the idea that price depends on supply. It’s no different for housing. People who live and want to live in Santa Monica are competing for a fixed number of homes (supply). The rents and home prices in this city are a reflection of the desirability and the level of competition for a home.

However, by capping the growth of housing supply prices will be pushed higher as the availability of homes becomes even less. Also current lower-income residents will be pushed out as landlords become more incentivized to find ways to work around current regulations and push out lower-cost renters to be able to charge a higher rate. One cannot complain supposedly rampant development is causing high rents in Santa Monica. New development increases the supply of homes.

You also cannot say that stopping development will solve traffic. If you cannot build up, then you build out. By hampering development further in Santa Monica, you are simply going to push more people out of neighboring communities, and force lower-income people farther away. That sprawl forces them to commute longer distances to reach their jobs, increasing traffic and pollution in the nation’s capital of both.

There is no denying that affordable housing, traffic, and responsible development are important problems facing Santa Monica, and all of the Los Angeles area. We need to be approaching these problems with proactive solutions and collective discussion, not a knee-jerk effort to stop the conversation.

The effects politically and economically of the LUVE initiative would be disastrous in the long run, and I urge everyone not to sign the petition to put the initiative on November’s ballot.

John Thatcher is a Santa Monica resident.