Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Why Sign the Anti-Hines Petition


A petition is currently circulating for Santa Monica residents that would effectively halt or suspend approval for the proposed 767,000 square foot mixed-use development at 26th and Olympic known as "Bergamot Transit Village." The public opinion expressed before the Santa Monica City Council opposing the project, which goes beyond current zoning codes, was so great the Council had to postpone voting in order to hear comments. The project, to be built by the Hines development company, would double the current square footage of the existing buildings on site and generate an additional 7,000 car trips. This is in an area already known for traffic congestion. Nevertheless, the City Council voted, 4-3, on February 11 to approve the project.

A local resident advocacy group, Residocracy, plans to use available legal means to stop the project, or at least put it before the voters directly. According to Residocracy, if 10 percent of registered voters in the city sign a petition opposing the project, the City Council is bound to either cancel their original decision or effectively suspend it and place the issue before the General Public during the next General Election for their consideration. This means that even if Residocracy is able to produce 6,500 verifiable signatures, the voters may still get a chance to approve the project, if that's what most voters in the city actually want. The signatures must be gathered within 30 days of the Council vote.

The referendum petition is a way for residents of the city to exert their true wants and desires when the City Council is unwilling or unable to take residents' wants and desires into consideration.

The referendum petition, if it succeeds, could well serve as a wake-up call to a City Council that appears ready to approve almost thirty more Developer Agreements. This is more projects than have been approved in the past thirty-five years combined.

. If the Residocracy referendum to stop Hines' Bergamot Transit Village does not succeed, the Council could well take that as a green light to approve all the other projects sitting on their desk. If you think it is hard to get in and out of this city in the morning and evening now, wait until you add the 7,000 car trips of the Hines project, plus the thousands and thousands more from all the projects sitting in the pipeline. No matter what these projects promise in the way of parks and observation decks and affordable housing, they can not possibly outweigh the costs they will bring.

These costs will be substantial. By itself, additional traffic will greatly reduce the quality of living in Santa Monica. Traffic equals time. Wasted time. Time that could have been spent more productively. Time that could have been spent making a living, consuming products, educating or being educated, or simply time spent with friends and family. Time is probably the most significant resource we own.

The problem of lost time in traffic cannot be solved by jumping on a bicycle. For one thing, riding a bicycle also takes more time, the time whose theft reduces quality of life. For another, bicycles are completely impractical for anyone other than those who are young, extremely fit, and who don't have families. Try taking one child to the doctor, another to a soccer game, and stopping to pick up four bags of groceries on a bicycle. Obviously, bicycles are impossible for most seniors and the physically disabled.

But even if we could all ride bicycles instead of drive cars, the volume of new development, starting with the Hines project, is unsustainable.

More square-footage of commercial and residential space developed in the city means more need for every type of city infrastructure. There will have to be more policemen, more firemen, more fire stations and fire equipment. There will have to be more sewer lines, and there will be more demand for water, which is now under voluntary rationing for drought. How much more will we be rationed, and under what lesser conditions, after all these projects have been built and are occupied?

Santa Monica schools are operating currently at or beyond capacity. There are no additional campuses to house the additional students who would be attending if all the projected housing is built. Public money, probably bonds, would have to be raised. This is money that would come from all residents, not just the new projects.

The people behind Residocracy are giving Santa Monica residents a unique opportunity to let elected leaders know they are not heading in the right direction. The referendum petition is endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) and the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC).

If you would like to sign the referendum petition to put the brakes on out-of-control development, you may find a signature collector outside your local grocery store. If you don't see one there, then head over to Coldwell Banker at 1608 Montana Avenue, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm weekdays. Signatures must be turned in on Monday, March 10


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