Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Abandon the Appeal! Rowdy Protestors Tell Santa Monica City Council

Voting Rights Act Lawsuit decision to require redistricting has put the Council at odds with residents

11/27/2018: About 100 protestors showed up at the City Council meeting Tuesday night to urge the City Council to abandon the City's appeal of the Voting Rights Act Lawsuit.

Mayor Ted Winterer threatened more than once that he would clear the room if the protestors continued to interrupt speakers with cheering.

"SMRR supposedly stands for Santa Monicans for Renters Rights," said Elaine Golden-Gealer, "but I say SMRR now stands for Santa Monicans for Ruling Residents."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gonzalez mandated districting for City elections going forward.

In a Superior Court lawsuit filed by the Pico Neighborhood Association against the City of Santa Monica, Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelas ruled against the City.

She found that the City is in violation of the California Voter Rights Act, and the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution, in having Citywide representation on the 7 member City Council rather than City Council districts.

The City Attorney takes its orders from the City Council, at least 3 of whom are likely to lose their seats on the council (unless they find new digs in the Pico Neighborhood, or downtown).

"Public funds are being utilized to protect your positions," Maria Loya, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said. "We think that it's time for you to do the right thing."

If the City appeals, "You will be siding with conservative groups to roll back voting rights. That will be your legacy."

"All of the ire, it matters and it's growing and it's not healthy," said Ann Maggio Thanawalla. "And it's not going to change. It's going to significantly worsen."

Thanawalla said residents are angry at the Council for permitting overdevelopment, "giving priority to tourists and developers over residents."

Thanawalla's sentiments were echoed by Armen Melkonians, who has said publicly that he will sponsor a recall election if the Council members persist in appealing the VRA decision. Melkonians is the founder or Residocracy, a Facebook group with over 3200 members.


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