Con: "I was the only Councilmember who voted against the Miramar's over-sized proposal at 'float-up.' I remain opposed to its unacceptable massing and increased height.
All three of the hotel projects as currently proposed would be out of scale for Ocean Avenue. I'm on record as the staunchest defender of our coastal skyline against unwanted high-rise development. I'm particularly opposed to placing luxury skybox condos on top of hotels so the extremely wealthy can usurp our ocean views.
In June, I proposed that because our coastline is so uniquely important to us, any development exceeding our zoning on Ocean Avenue must go to a vote of residents before being built, not merely green-lighted by a pro-growth City Council majority. My motion to empower residents did not even garner a second, and died without discussion.
I will protect our coast from over-development, but I need more slow-growth allies on the City Council."
Pro: "We've always struggled to produce enough housing affordable to moderate- and low-income families and individuals. State law, regional mandates, and our City Charter all require that we produce affordable housing.
Many of our existing residents struggle with market-rate rents. Further, we're a city with more jobs than places for employees to live.
If there's no housing in Santa Monica affordable for someone's income range, even after stretching the household budget, they're forced to live elsewhere. People who work in Santa Monica, but live somewhere else, must commute — adding to our traffic problems.
Many of our jobs in Santa Monica, even for someone working full-time, pay moderate or even low incomes. For those working families, the market rate rents may be too high. Our current affordable housing policies focus on multi-bedroom, family housing.
Santa Monica also has a responsibility toward persons with disabilities, and other households on limited, fixed incomes, including seniors. The demand for such housing, at low- and very-low income levels, is even higher than for working families, because market-rate rents are even farther out of reach.
Our commitment to affordable housing keeps us an egalitarian, diverse, and inclusive community, with households of all sizes and income levels."
Con: "Overly tall development in Santa Monica should never be allowed 'by right.'
I voted for limiting downtown heights to 84 feet, even on so-called 'opportunity sites.' Any project that wants to exceed that height will have to demonstrate extraordinary reasons why the additional stories provide a compelling community benefit.
Further, my vote to limit heights guarantees far closer inspection of how taller proposals might hurt nearby properties and downtown as a whole. Because of my vote, any project over 84 feet will have to fund and present a detailed Environmental Impact Report that looks at all the potential impacts, including increased traffic and blockage of air and sun from surrounding properties.
Only then would such a project even be eligible for consideration, which will involve multiple public hearings in front of the Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board, and City Council. There will be public input and community engagement every step of the way, up to and including the deciding vote of the City Council.
I have voted against more Development Agreements than any other Councilmember.
Developers also face the likelihood of public intervention by referendum on overly tall projects."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Unlike the Ocean Avenue hotels, where specific projects already have been presented, the 4th/5th and Arizona site does not yet have a proposed development for us to judge.
Over the last several years, the City Council assembled nine downtown parcels to be combined to fulfill a long list of community-desired amenities, including a gathering space, a permanent ice rink location, cultural facilities, and retail stores at price levels Santa Monicans want, not high-end boutiques that can pay inflated rents.
The public process lasted almost three years. At the end, some residents proposed a ground-level park instead. This would mean forgoing most of the other amenities.
What the City Council did — unanimously, because it was the correct thing to do as owners of the property — was authorize the design/architectural team to explore a full range of options. Only at that point will there be a 'project' for us to vote on.
Such a project would start the long assessment process again from the beginning, with robust public participation every step of the way.
By the way, the absolute tallest option under consideration is fifty feet shorter than our landmarked Clock Tower."
Pro: "What we are learning to do is create more parking where needed. No one doubts the urgent shortage of available street parking in many of our residential neighborhoods, for instance.
New residential projects must include adequate parking, and new commercial development along boulevards adjacent to impacted neighborhoods must provide for themselves the parking needed by employees and customers. We can no longer let neighborhood streets be overrun to the point where residents cannot find parking near their own homes.
In some more commercial parts of the city, the perceived shortage of parking may be alleviated through smarter signage and distribution of parking, encouraging visitors to park once and explore on foot. Near established mass transit, parking needs may be lower, and requirements appropriately reduced.
Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions make automobile traffic congestion not just an annoyance but an environmental threat. Parking doesn't create traffic, but it does, to some extent, encourage automobile use. We must plan for a community with lowered need for cars, and therefore fewer cars on the street. When transit availability makes this possible, we can reduce parking construction, freeing the space and money for more human-serving uses."
Con: "Four years ago I fought long and hard to include less office space and more housing in the LUCE. I lost. I was also the only Councilmember who voted against all the last-minute height increases in the LUCE.
We will see office space expansion under unwise land-use and zoning decisions already made; in fact, I fear we may see far too much. We are fortunate to be a jobs-rich city already, and new office space without adequate and affordable near-by housing will mean even more office workers driving in and out of Santa Monica every workday, forced to commute and pollute.
I'm fully cognizant that there continues to be a market-driven demand for still more office space in Santa Monica, but a demand is not a need. If we rationally assess what we need to be a livable, sustainable city, blocks of 'creative office' developments are not part of the solution.
We've already seen what traffic misery Water Gardens caused, and too much office space and traffic generation were major reasons why I voted against the Hines project even before residents mounted a referendum."
Con: "No one has a good plan to improve traffic! One thing I know for certain is that we can't build our way out of gridlock — but even if we were to stop building right now and for years to come, traffic still would get worse, not better.
That doesn't mean we are without options. First and foremost, we must do no further harm. I am, have been, and will be a champion of thoughtful slow growth, taking into account the cumulative effects of development, including traffic, not being fooled by individual project promises.
Commercial development generates three times the traffic of housing, and we are a community with a demonstrable housing shortage already. Creating housing provides workers in local jobs an option not to drive in and out of Santa Monica, through our neighborhoods, every workday.
New development can be designed to avoid making things worse, but only a long-term transition to more mass transit in Southern California as a region will truly 'improve' traffic. Meanwhile, we need to slow down, pick the very best projects from what developers offer, and make sure those few best projects fulfill their promises and deliver tangible benefits to the people who live here."
Pro: "Bikes are traffic-busters even for people who never ride.
I've ridden a bike in Santa Monica for over 38 years, more when I was younger than now, so I know all the joys and challenges first-hand.
Our new bike lanes, the upcoming Michigan Avenue Greenway project, our Safe Routes to Schools program, bike valets, and downtown’s twin bike centers all help those willing and able to use bicycles to ride conveniently and safely. I've taken the lead on a new regional bike-sharing program.
Drivers benefit from fewer other cars on the road. Even a small reduction in total vehicles, as little as ten percent, can turn gridlock into free flow on our streets. Every bike you see is one small step toward traffic relief.
Reduced traffic is not the only worthwhile benefit of encouraging increased bicycle usage, of course. Active transportation means better public health, and a bicycle outperforms even an electric car in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
I know the intensifying mix of bikes and cars, bikes and pedestrians, is a challenge to some of us. Changing long-held habits is hard. We will learn to share safe streets, and in the end we all will share the benefits."
Con: "Santa Monica Airport seen from above is an aircraft carrier afloat in a sea of homes. No one would ever put it there now, with inadequate runway buffers, closer to more homes than any other airport in the country. Sustainability and safety both argue for closing the airport.
Airport special interests who want to squat forever on Santa Monica's land have mounted a deceptive campaign, trying to trick voters, stoking and manipulating fears of development. I played a major role in rewording the Local Control Measure LC to make sure it was unequivocal about retaining our right to close the airport without the possibility of any development not approved by a vote of our residents, who own the land.
Our City Manager recently told the Council that the Airport has about the same employment and economic impacts as a medium-size strip mall. Those meager benefits clearly don't balance the safety, air pollution, and other impacts of having a jetport in a residential neighborhood.
The City Council in 2012 approved unanimously my motion to direct staff to explore the City's legal rights to close the airport. To retain those rights, please vote NO on Measure D, and YES on Measure LC."
Pro: "Safety and sanity make it imperative we intervene, to the extent allowed by law. My record shows I will take action to protect residents’ control over the airport land we own.
In 2007, I was the first Councilmember to endorse Ted Lieu's bill on SMO pollution. That same year, I made the motion to ban Class C and D jet aircraft from SMO's unsafely short runway.
In 2010, it was my idea to have the South Coast Air Quality Management District take air quality readings during a four-day closure for runway repaving, which yielded factual data revealing that SMO aircraft operations increased certain air pollution indices for nearby neighborhoods by factors of twelve to seventeen.
In May of 2012 I added full closure into the list of options the City Council directed the staff to explore. In 2013, I made the motion to increase landing fees, including for flight schools, which has reduced pattern flying significantly.
This year, 2014, it was again my motion to NOT extend airport leases and return the matter to the Airport Commission.
When the 1984 Agreement expires next year, I want to be on the Council to continue fighting for residents' interests."
Pro: "Most Santa Monica businesses do very well, enjoying many of the same benefits from being here that residents enjoy. I've supported more business-friendly signage and display rules for Main Street, Pico, and Montana, our neighborhood-serving commercial areas.
Our emergence as a major tech center is gratifying to me because many years ago I was on Santa Monica's Telecommunications Task Force, and helped with our master plan to install internet-ready fiber under city streets for future use. We're now able to provide local businesses with super-fast 100 Gigabit connectivity, with absolute net neutrality — no access denial, and no throttling.
City Hall 'buys local,' just as we urge residents to do: I instituted a City policy favoring local businesses for City bids. We use our local newspaper, the Daily Press, for legal and other announcements.
I've helped save small resident-serving businesses like neighborhood food markets and our Aero Theatre.
I also ended the City tax on small home businesses, encouraging small entrepreneurs, and allowing a more sustainable, family-friendly lifestyle. People working at home don't have to drive so much, relieving traffic problems, and they tend to shop and dine close to home. Keeping Santa Monica dollars in Santa Monica benefits us all."
Pro: "Medical marijuana is legal in California, and just because the City of Los Angeles handled dispensary issues so poorly doesn't mean we can’t do better.
Forcing Santa Monica patients to travel out of their hometown for prescribed marijuana is neither compassionate nor necessary — nor do we want to rely on sketchy and potentially unsafe 'delivery services.'
The new zoning code for Santa Monica, now being developed, should specify locations and conditions that can make a limited number of dispensaries no more of a problem than existing, legal liquor stores. We will listen carefully to all the concerns, and write appropriate controls into our local law."
Pro: "For the fifth time, I have been endorsed by both the Santa Monica Police Officers Association and Santa Monica Firefighters' Local 1109. These are the men and women who run toward armed shooters and into burning buildings, with the well-being of our community and of our residents as their unshakable mission.
Our public safety personnel are uniquely qualified to judge my long-term commitment to their work. I am in ongoing touch with both department brass and the rank and file, to make sure as a Councilmember I’m providing them with the resources and support to keep every Santa Monican safe and protected.
As needs grow and service calls increase, we face growing challenges in staffing, deployment, equipment, and dispatch. Without dishonoring the impeccable professionalism of our police and fire personnel by engaging in political posturing, I have stayed on top of their issues, engaged in problem-solving, and continued to offer the utmost support to make sure public safety in Santa Monica remains a top priority. When public safety needs are identified and agreed upon, I will always be there to fulfill them."
Pro: "In the past five years, despite the Great Recession, the number of homeless people suffering on Santa Monica streets has decreased by 20%. That is very significant progress.
No one small city can ever solve what is a regional and national disgrace, the result of decades of allowing social safety nets to fray and fail. Still, we cannot walk away from this issue. We have to put our heads and hearts toward solving it.
I’ve been active on homelessness since the 80s, and, with the adoption of our 2008 'Action Plan,' began shifting our efforts from temporary support towards ongoing, truly transformative change.
I helped move outdoor feeding programs indoors, where people are treated with dignity and connected with services, not just fed for a few hours. I championed the concept of 'housing first,' which actually saves us money in many ways, including by reducing emergency calls.
I will continue our concerted efforts to focus City services and resources on the most vulnerable homeless individuals, while encouraging all people without homes to make productive use of our offered services, become more stable, move into appropriate housing, and remain housed. Over time, our efforts have proven effective, humane, and socially sustainable."
Con: "One reason Santa Monica is such a wonderful place to live is the broad and deep range of public services our city provides. Even our magnificent natural resources, such as the beach, require stewardship and hard work to remain clean, safe, and enjoyable.
Public services are delivered by public employees. The vast majority of city employees serve in working-class jobs, where the stability of their city paychecks enables them to become the secure middle class that is the backbone of any healthy community.
Without their hard work, your trash wouldn't get picked up, your buses wouldn't run, and your parks wouldn't be maintained. City employees supervise your children at our after-school programs, and bury your dead at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The engagement and dedication of Santa Monica City employees makes ours a better city. Reducing the number of workers by outsourcing jobs diminishes that commitment, and is a policy I oppose.
I have always been prudent about hiring and expansion. Santa Monica is a tight ship with a triple-A bond rating. I'm committed to continuing to provide residents with first class city services — and the face on that promise is a city employee."
With gratitude toward community members like you, who contribute ideas and effort for making Santa Monica a better city, I'm running for re-election on my record of responsiveness to residents.
You've supported and inspired me to continue protecting our neighborhoods and quality of life, preserving Santa Monica's charm and character, limiting building heights, and reducing commercial oversaturation that encourages more traffic.
Our hometown is in the crosshairs of overdevelopment. I voted against the Hines project, and against evicting vulnerable seniors from Village Trailer Park.
My motion two years ago introduced the option of closing the airport, possibly for a park. I'll continue to pioneer a sustainable city.
As a renters' rights advocate, I protect you against tenant harassment or eviction. I've supported fair wages, and truly affordable housing for working families. My commitment to excellent public education is unmatched: I work for our local schools.
I've championed services to youth, seniors, and the disadvantaged, including compassionate homelessness programs that lowered the number of people suffering on our streets by nearly 20% over the past five years.
My full record is open to your examination at www.mckeown.net.
I'm YOUR Councilmember. I don't take corporate donations; never have. I thank you for your vote.