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Measure T limits commercial development

October 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is a battle underway in Santa Monica over a ballot measure aimed at curbing commercial development. As unlikely as it may seem, there is money and great interest being spent by people in Chicago, and New York to defeat Measure T. Snarled traffic has been the source of headaches for Westsiders. Supporters of Measure T think they have the answer to Santa Monica's traffic trouble.

"If you build another - pick a number - 500,000 square feet of space ... Will that new 500,000 square feet of space generate traffic or not? To me, it seems obvious that it will," said Bobby Shriver, Santa Monica City Council.

Measure T proposes capping commercial developments in Santa Monica, limiting the expansion of hotels, offices and retail space. It aims to slow commercial development to about half its current rate, with hopes of limiting further traffic congestion.

There is a broad coalition of developers against the measure.

"Every traffic study that's been done on Measure T has found that it will have no impact on traffic whatsoever. Unfortunately, Measure T pitches itself as a silver bullet to control traffic and commercial development. But, if that silver bullet existed, it would be used all across the country," said Terry O'Day, Santa Monica Planning Commission.

"Well, of course there's no magic bullet. Who could imagine that there could be a magic bullet for traffic? If there were, everybody would be doing it. This is just a bullet, and ... it prevents new traffic from coming in," said Shriver.

There is a large amount of money being funneled into Santa Monica from developers in Chicago and New York, hoping to defeat Measure T. Those developers had plans to build office space and hotels in Santa Monica.

"We have the broadest endorsement list that we've seen in decades on any kind of election question. And so, when you have this range of endorsements against Measure T, you find that the resources are there to challenge the measure," said O'Day.

"When they see that almost a million dollars has been spent to defeat T, I think they're going to vote for T. The 'For-T' people have less than $40,000, so you've got real David versus Goliath. And, Santa Monica's always sided for the 'Davids' in politics," said Shriver.

Supporters say Measure T calls for reasonable controls, and modest limits, on commercial development.

Opponents say traffic is fundamentally a problem of too many cars. So, reducing automobile dependency should be the focus of the problem.


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