Con: "I don't support any of the three as proposed. But I can envision positive alternative/substantial revisions of each. As proposed, each has compelling features and benefits. But all are too tall and contain the wrong mix of uses for our community.
All three are proposed as hotel projects. But each would obliterate our city's 84' height limit (up to 315'!) by adding luxury condominium towers on top of the hotels. Such towers are not urban infill, are not transit oriented, do not address climate change - but would negatively gentrify our downtown beyond the reach of many residents.
The scale - and views of the blue sky and Santa Monica Mountains - to be preserved is especially from the beach, Pier, Palisades Park, Tongva Park and City Hall. The proposed heights would contradict our feel as a beachside community.
With our existing advantages of location, infrastructure, high quality police and fire service, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Big Blue Bus - and the coming Expo line - we don't need to become Century City West to have a vibrant downtown and successful local economy.
As a Councilmember, I would work to achieve well-designed, beautiful projects within our community scale."
Pro: "The City's overbuilding of commercial office space in the 1980s and the state's destruction of our affordable housing stock through the Costa-Hawkins Act in the 1990s has created a great demand and a greatly reduced support of affordable housing in Santa Monica.
I support producing new affordable and work force housing, as well as purchasing/rehabbing/deed-restricting existing affordable housing, so people can live closer to work (cutting down pollution and congestion) and so we can enjoy a diverse community of people from all income levels.
I support directing the bulk of new residential development outside of existing neighborhoods, so as not to encourage the displacement of existing residents and affordable rents.
New housing should be focused in our downtown, in the formerly light industrial zone on our City’s east side, as well as along our major commercial boulevards -- and in those cases, scaled to fit nearby neighborhoods. We also need to emphasize the creation of more two and three-bedroom units as part of this production, so that families can find a home in our community; as well as some affordable 'starter' units so that young people who grow up here have an opportunity to remain in the community."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The City's current height limit is 84'. While there is nothing magical about 84' per se, establishing it was a smart move by the City Council in the early 1980s, after previous Councils in the 1960s and 1970s approved radically out of scale towers and structures in our city, which have scarred our skyline and lessened our beachside community character.
The 84' height limit established a reasonable scale for future development in the city - and that scale has certainly not prevented our downtown from becoming commercially and socially successful in the last 30 years. Indeed, many would argue that it has greatly contributed to it.
Are there theoretical circumstances where a small deviation from 84' could make sense? Sure – but it would have to be for a very good reason and with a large amount of community buy-in. For the reasons stated about the proposed condo/hotel towers on Ocean Ave., I am highly skeptical about this along Ocean Ave."
Con: "The project as proposed is 12 stories, not 15. I don’t support a project at 12 stories, nor do I support the amount of new commercial office space proposed.
I do support a shorter project with more affordable housing – especially for service workers who currently work in and commute to downtown – along with less commercial office space.
However I am not in favor of eliminating all of the office space in the project, because I believe that the presence of office workers creates daytime foot traffic and would enhance/enliven the proposed public open spaces, and provide customers who would spend money at the proposed market/eateries on the site.
The project as proposed does have great additional public benefits, from its environmental design, children’s museum, good paying living wage jobs, and many great public spaces, including the fact that the top floor is open to the public free of charge, to views that are normally only reserved for occupants of luxury condos or office towers.
This developer is open to community concerns and I support working with him for an appropriately-scaled project that truly serves the community."
[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this question stated that the proposed development was 15 stories rather than 12, hence Feinstein's comment in the first paragraph of his response. On Oct. 17, 2014 we corrected the question to state that the proposed development is 12 stories, not 15.]
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "In some areas we may want to create more parking – such as to provide parking for future arts/cultural uses at the Civic Center Auditorium/Barnum Hall/Greek Theatre/Bergamot Station.
In other places, we might want to move existing parking, such as taking down parking structure #1 south of Wilshire along 4th St. (which needs to be replaced because its not up to current earthquake standards) and replace some of it underneath the City’s project at 4th/5th/Arizona instead.
There is also the innovative idea of realigning the 4th St. off-ramp to flow directly to Olympic Bl. in the Civic Center, and use the regained land south of the 4th/Colorado Expo light rail stop for new parking, so people would get off the I-10 freeway, park and walk into downtown (and/or use the light rail stop), rather than clogging up 4th St. driving to other parking.
For new housing near our light rail stops, I support lower parking ratios so that we attract tenants who are more likely to use public transit. But in our existing residential neighborhoods that are not near light rail – neighborhoods that suffer from an off-street parking deficit, I don't support this change."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The immense Water Garden office park development and the surrounding Special Office District – all approved by the City Council in the late 1980s, is a major cause of the city’s traffic problem. The resulting jobs/housing imbalance also creates great pressure on our affordable housing stock.
I have a clear record opposing this trend. In 1993 I led the residents referendum against the Civic Center Specific Plan that approved a commercial office park along Ocean Ave. As a Councilmember in 1999, I helped lead the acquisition of part of that land, so that today we have a park there instead. This year, I gathered signatures for the referendum against the Hines Bergamot Transit Village, because it also had too much commercial office space.
I don't support any future major expansion of the City's office space supply. However I can see as beneficial small amounts of very carefully considered new office space, where the presence of daytime workers would help vitalize local retail and public spaces and if located next to light rail stations so that they will be less automobile-oriented."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The City's current jobs-heavy jobs/housing imbalance is a result of poor planning by the City Council in the 1980s; is what leads to major commute problems, including why the I-10 is backed up to the 405 in the morning, and the City's east side is impassable in the afternoon.
To redress these past planning sins – and to reduce pollution, congestion and address climate change - I support positive alternatives to the automobile like bus, light rail, bikes and increased pedestrian-orientation. But such approaches cannot solve the problem alone.
We must also pursue a traffic demand-reduction strategy, by minimizing the need to drive by meeting local needs locally - by promoting community-serving affordable retail, neighborhood-based local markets and community gardens; housing policies that enable people to live closer to work and along public transit/bike corridors; more local parks and open space we can walk to; and local hiring and living wage jobs.
Outside our borders, I support the 'Subway to the Sea' extension to Santa Monica on Wilshire Bl. and enhanced public transit down Lincoln Bl. and Sepulveda Bl. to LAX and the South Bay. I'm endorsed by LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin, in whose districts these would be partially located."
Pro: "Santa Monica has seen a major expansion of bike lanes and bike use in the thirty years I've lived here. Many people who once drove their cars almost exclusively, now incorporate bike riding and bike commutes into their regular routine. This has substantially reduced trips that would have otherwise been made in automobiles.
As a neighborhood activist in 1989-1990, I was a member of the 17-person Main St. Advisory Committee of residents, merchants and property owners who unanimously recommended to the Council to change Main St. from four lanes of traffic to two, along with a turning lane and a bike land in each direction. This has not only increased bike safety, but has been good for local, neighborhood-serving small business on Main St., as according to local merchants, passersby in cars now go slower and see the businesses along the street and patronize them."
Con: "Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is a health, safety and environmental hazard, and is operated at public subsidy for the benefit of the few, most who are not Santa Monica residents.
I support converting SMO into a multi-purpose great park. In 1926, Santa Monica residents voted for a park bond to purchase the land upon which (SMO) sits today.
Santa Monica is one of the densest cities in California - and we are well short of enough open, green space for families, recreation, the environment and our health. Several Santa Monica neighborhoods are especially lacking, while two-thirds of Santa Monicans are renters with little or no open space of their own.
Utilizing public land to fit the unmet needs of the many is good public policy. We can start by taking control of the 35+ acres 'quit claim' parcel on SMO's western edge in 2015 – and ultimately put approximately 165 acres of SMO land into park use.
Other complimentary considerations should include cutting edge solar energy production; underground water runoff/storage after we remediate any environmental contamination there; and expanding and synergizing the arts/cultural/educational uses on the south side."
Pro: "I fully believe that Santa Monica will be able to convert the land it owns at SMO into a park, after the city's contractual obligations with the FAA from the 1984 agreement to operate it as an airport end in July 2015.
Before that date, I support enacting new, tough standards to protect the health of our residents, by limiting the amount of air pollution emitted by SMO, while the City exercises its proprietary rights over SMO under the 1984 agreement.
As to future aviation services at SMO, I don't support extending leases to aviation services at SMO, after the current leases end in July 2015.
What I do support is extending leases for existing non-aviation arts/cultural/educational uses on the south side non-aviation land at SMO."
Pro: "Santa Monica provides a clean, safe and green environment that is highly attractive in which to do business. Our pro-business infrastructure includes our City NetSM broadband fiber optic network (which I voted to establish on the City Council), which helps local businesses compete in the global economy, including the many tech and entertainment businesses headquartered here, by providing low-cost opportunities to integrate, manage and exchange data, voice, and video.
We feature high quality police and fire service, a well-funded/highly accomplished Convention and Visitors Bureau, an award-winning Big Blue Bus company, city funding for Downtown Santa Monica Inc. to promote our downtown, and support for local business improvement organizations along Main St., Pico Bl. and Montana Ave.
To promote an educated local work force, we provide $17 million annually to the school district; along with funding our groundbreaking 'Cradle to Career' initiative, to ensure every Santa Monica child has the full opportunity to succeed in school and work.
We need to improve our jobs/housing balance, including 'work force' and service worker housing, so people can live closer to work and work closer to where they live, reducing congestion and commute times, making this a greater draw to top talent and business."
Pro: "Just like other people with medical needs, medical marijuana users in Santa Monica deserve safe, local and accessible access to their medicine.
Part of our overall urban planning approach should be to meet local needs locally, with locally-serving, community-based small business. That approach strengthens neighborhoods, promotes walkability and reduces the need to drive - all increasing our quality of life. We can provide safe local access medical marijuana, while ensuring concerns raised about its sale by our public safety personnel are addressed - just like we do with other legal businesses that operate safely in Santa Monica."
Pro: "Even though local crime rates have gone steadily down for many years, changing times bring changing needs that must be addressed.
With the Expo Light Rail line coming to town, there will be new challenges for our police and fire personnel to maintain their excellent response times, as the Expo Line will de facto split the city in two many times a day, as it passes through our city streets at ground level through most of its route.
Investing in public safety is investing in ourselves. To respond to the challenges presented by the Expo line, I support making strong and prudent investments in our public safety personnel and equipment, to ensure we can maintain our existing high level of service.
Related concerns arise with the additional number of people coming to town. Given how our public safety personnel already respond during average busy weekends, I am confident they can handle this influx. However we need to ensure they have the resources to do so, and it will be a learning process as to what is required, as we adapt to the changes that the Expo Line will bring."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "This question is based upon a false premise, that addressing homelessness isn't part of the City’s needs, but is foreign/external to it. While homelessness' root causes originate beyond our borders, we exist within a larger regional/national context, and must address the local pros/cons of that reality. Just as we substantially benefit from income from people outside of our borders, we also bear the negative consequences of that larger reality.
Homelessness is a great tragedy of our society. Veterans, domestic violence victims, people with mental illness, substance abuse problems, those who cannot find work and/or are forced to choose between health care and rent are all on our streets daily.
Santa Monica has been extremely compassionate dedicating significant resources to help these people off of the street into more stable/productive lives. I wholeheartedly support these efforts – and the number of people on our streets has gone down significantly over the last 15 years. But we cannot do it alone.
I support efforts to expand the housing for homeless veterans at the VA property in West LA, where multiple buildings could be used for this purpose. With a new local County Supervisor and Congress member, I will work hard to make this happen."
Con: "While there are always small adjustments in the number of employees depending upon the department and the year in question, this question seems to imply we should have a substantial decrease in the number of municipal employees (and hence a substantial shrinking of local government services). That's why I answered no.
Santa Monica currently provides a high level of service to its 90,000 residents. That requires more employees than cities that don't provide such a high level of services. We can always say we can do 'less with more.' But there are practical limits to that approach.
Santa Monica's large budget and its number of employees also stems from the fact that we are a regional/world tourist destination and a sub-regional jobs center. We also have a pier, airport, interstate freeway and two major hospitals. Our normal weekday daytime population is approximately 250,000. On some weekends, the number swells far beyond that. We both profit from this influx and have to manage it.
As important as the number of employees who are providing services to us, is to ensure that our budget priorities reflect the needs and aspirations of our residents. As a Councilmember, I would work to ensure that."
Dear fellow Santa Monican,
I'm a 30-year resident of Santa Monica, a city I love.
As a former Mayor and City Councilmember, I've worked hard for more parks, recreational facilities and open spaces in our dense city.
I support a sustainable Santa Monica, with more solar energy, urban forest and planning for climate change.
I stand for a strong local economy, with community-serving small businesses and good jobs.
I am a renter and support renters' rights and affordable housing.
And I support the arts, youth and quality education.
We face significant traffic, parking and livability challenges resulting from ill-conceived past development.
We can protect our neighborhoods, meet the needs of changing times, and keep our beach town feel and community scale – by promoting positive alternatives to the automobile, minimizing the need to drive and only approving right-sized, community-serving development.
I am strongly committed to resident participation and empowerment in city policy-making.
Santa Monica must be a city of opportunity and quality of life for all – families, youth and seniors, renters and homeowners, workers and small businesses.
My proven ability to work with diverse groups and individuals to build consensus can achieve these goals.