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

By Roger C. Swanson
Ocean Park Resident 

Follow the money supporting "No on LV" to Unwrap LV's Real Opponents

Why did pro-growth Council members support the explosion of office construction that left the City with traffic gridlock and little additional affordable housing

 

November 8, 2016

City workers on Main Street. Santa Monica's City Government never lacks for revenue to upgrade City streets, building and rebuilding what they've just rebuilt.

As a former management consultant with clients that ranged from small companies to large Fortune 500 companies, and the largest company in Canada, one principle stood out when trying to understand a business: Follow the money!

So, let's unwrap the "No on LV" package:

First some basics: Increased height, plus density, equal higher land values; this often translates into what is called economic rents, that is, profits beyond what is needed to justify a project. Another basic is that most low-density projects create less traffic than higher density ones.

Investment in "No on LV" has a Return on Investment, otherwise why spend the money? The financial statements of the "No on LV" supporters show companies headquartered in Nevada, Georgia, Rhode Island, state of Washington, and Beverly Hills, to name a few, spending money to influence a vote in Santa Monica. The total "No" contributions exceed $1.2 million. Trust me, companies don't spend that amount of money unless they expect to receive a substantial return.

Pro-growth City Council members over the years relied on "pay to play", using developer money to finance their campaigns. The Transparency Project studied this and reached the same conclusion. Why did many of these candidates receive a majority/significant share of their contributions from outside interests? Who were their constituents?

The residents, or developers living outside of Santa Monica?

Finally, why did the pro-growth Council members support the explosion of office construction that left the City with traffic gridlock and little additional affordable housing? Pay to play? It should be noted that office buildings are high yielding investments without the headaches of residential housing. Another developer win?

Look no further than the voter cancelled Hines project and the shenanigans of the Village Trailer Park (VTP). These developers made money on both projects: VTP tossed out seniors from their homes in order to enrich the developer, and Hines sold the property, which is currently being renovated under "by-right" zoning that limits height. Both the original Hines and the VTP were "sold" on the basis of providing more "affordable housing". But, at what cost to the community? And, who profited? The VTP developers made a reported $50 million on their $5 million investment.

Work crew in Reed Park, named after the councilmember BTW responsible for bringing in the Expo line. Did anyone ask the City to spend 6 months installing exercise equipment in Reed park? Did residents really demand it, or does the City just like spending money?

A brief side note: If you are receiving your mail delivery much later than normal, think about all the "No on LV" mailers. I get about half a dozen a day. Multiply that times other residents on your postal workers route and you get the picture. Do the people sending these mailers think you are so stupid as to need a half dozen reminders a day in order for you to vote "No"? They are mocking your intelligence!

What's worse, the "No on LV" folks are spreading unwarranted, false fears about the future. If, as the "No" folks claim, there were any impediments to rebuilding after a major earthquake, it would take about three nanoseconds for the residents to fix that. But, there is no fix for an overbuilt City that is straining its infrastructure, shaped by traffic gridlock. Enough of this nonsense!

Bottom Line:

Vote "YES" on LV if you believe that Santa Monica residents should control the destiny of our future growth, not outside entities seeking economic "rents"!

Roger Swanson

Ocean Park Resident

 

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