Five ballot measures qualified for inclusion in the November 8, 2016 Santa Monica election. Money and political endorsements now gravitate to both sides of each measure as local elected officials, prominent residents, members of advocacy groups, political organizations and specifically targeted political action committees (PACs) – which have no limits on financial contributions – all battle to sway public opinion and garner votes. In this article and a follow-on next week, here is the field of play:

The Land Use Voter Empowerment Initiative (LUVE), Measure LV, is the only grassroots initiative measure, submitted with over 10,000 resident signatures. The initiative would amend the City’s General Plan to require a new permit process for major development projects exceeding base size heights of 32-36 feet. Measure LV requires voter approval of major development projects and development agreements (excluding affordable housing, moderate income and senior housing projects, among others) as well as voter approval of changes to City land use and planning policy documents.

In favor of LV are Residocracy founder and civil engineer, Armen Melkonians; Residocracy Board members Kate Bransfield, Ellen Hannan, Zina Josephs; and, Richard Hilton, Vice-chair/former chair Santa Monica City Housing Commission and Executive Director, West LA Council for Seniors. As of the June 30, 2016 Campaign Disclosure Statement, Residocracy has raised $26,654 to support LUVE with $12,701 spent for web services.

Opposing LV is a coalition of civic heavyweights including councilmember and former Mayor Kevin McKeown; Barbara Inatasugu, President of Santa Monica League of Women Voters; Linda Sullivan, SMRR Steering Committee member; Nathaniel Trives, former Mayor of Santa Monica; and Harry Keily, teacher and former President of SMMUSD Classroom Teachers Association.

Two PACs are raising and spending money to defeat LV: Housing Opportunity for a Modern Economy (HOME), sponsored and funded by housing developers NMS Properties ($225,000), Mass Equities, Inc., Century West Partners ($25,000) and Cypress Equity Investments (a partner of Century West). As of June 30, 2016, HOME had raised $225,000 and spent $46,151 on political consultants, slate mailers and campaign literature. The second anti-LUVE PAC, Santa Monica Forward Issues Committee, is lead by Judy Abdo, a former mayor. Ms. Abdo, along with council member Terry O’Day, lead a similar PAC, Save Our City, in opposition to Prop T, a 2008 Initiative to limit commercial growth that subsequently was defeated.

Santa Monica Forward’s PAC raised $10,255, with the biggest donations of $1,000 each coming from Theodore Kahan, a real estate investor, and Jeff Klocke, manager of Pacific Park. Santa Monica Forward has spent less than $600 on a fundraiser to date.

The City Council voted to place two measures on the ballot. GSH and its companion advisory measure add a half-cent increase in the Transaction and Use Tax to city coffers, the funds to be allocated for preservation and building affordable housing and schools. Measures GSH are promoted by prominent civic group leaders including Sarah Braff, President of the SMMUSD Classroom Teachers Association; Michael Soloff, Chair of the Housing Commission; Jennifer Smith, President of the PTA; Patricia Hoffman, Co-chair of SMRR; and, Barry Seid, AARP District Co-coordinator.

Opposing the GSH measures are Roberto Rodrigues, renter; Clara Benrey, retired School Teacher; Donald Gray, former Chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association; Scott Kelso, Union Member; and Robert Kronovet, former Rent Control Board commissioner.

As of June 30, 2016 no money had been raised either for or against the two GSH measures.

Two further measures, V, the Santa Monica College $345 million bond measure, and SM, which stipulates changes to Santa Monica’s anti-corruption Oaks law, will be addressed in a separate article next week.

The text of the ballot measures and arguments for and against can be found at www.smvote.org/ballotMeasures.

After the next campaign disclosure statements September 29, we will review the bidding on all five measures. Stay tuned.

By Mary Marlow