City of Santa Monica Bergamot Transit Village "Hines Project" Veto Referendum (November 2014)

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A City of Santa Monica Bergamot Transit Village "Hines Project" Veto Referendum ballot question was not put on the November 4, 2014, election ballot for voters in the City of Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California. Instead of putting the referendum on the ballot, the city council rescinded the targeted development plan themselves.[1]

This measure was triggered by the Santa Monica City Council approval of a Bergamot Transit Village (BTV) development project proposed by Hines 26th Street LLC development company. This project, if it had gone forward unthwarted by the referendum effort, would have produced 765,095 square feet of mixed-use development at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street. The City Council voted on February 4, 2014, in a four against three decision to approve the BTV project. Not even a full day later, a campaign for a veto referendum petition against the City Council's decision was underway. It was led by the movement called Residocracy.org, which was founded by former city council candidate Armen Melkonians. The petitioners had a 30 day window beginning on the day of the city council's vote to collect the required 6,091 valid signatures. This window ended on March 14, 2014. On March 12, 2014, opponents of the project submitted 13,500 signatures and the city clerk, on April 18, 2014, confirmed that enough of the submitted signatures were valid for a successful referendum petition. Law commanded the city council to put the targeted project before voters or repeal it through a council action. The city council decided to repeal the development plan themselves during their meeting on May 13, 2014.[2][3]

Support

Note: Those who were opposed to the City Council approved development project and in favor of overturning the development agreement, which was the goal of the referendum measure, are referred to as supporters in this article.

Supporters

  • Residocracy.org led the referendum petition campaign.[4]

Other supporters included:[2]

  • Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR)
  • Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC)
  • Mid-City Neighbors
  • Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition (Wilmont)

Arguments in favor

Those opposed to the project believed the city council ignored the will of the affected residents by approving this construction project and that it would have resulted in a large and inconvenient increase in traffic.[5]

An email sent out by Residocracy.org to its members read, “Referendum to Veto City Council's decision on proposed 765,000 square foot development scheduled to launch after City Council ignores residents and approves 7,000 new daily car trips."[5]

Campaign finance

Armen Melkonians, founder of Residocracy.org, spent about $2,500 on printing petition signature packets. Several attendants of the referendum launch meeting donated money to offset these costs.[2]

Opposition

Note: Those who were in favor of the City Council approved development project and opposed to overturning the development agreement, which was the goal of the referendum measure, are referred to as opponents in this article.

City council vote

For development project

The following four council members voted to approve the BTV development project:[6]

  • Councilmember Gleam Davis
  • Mayor Pam O'Connor
  • Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day
  • Councilmember Bob Holbrook

Against development project

The following three council members voted against approving the BTV development project as proposed:[6]

  • Councilmember Kevin McKeown
  • Councilmember Tony Vazquez
  • Councilmember Ted Winterer

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

This measure was triggered by the approval by the Santa Monica City Council of a Bergamot Transit Village (BTV) development project proposed by Hines 26th Street LLC development company. The City Council voted on February 4, 2014, in a four against three decision to approve the BTV project. Not even a full day later, about 250 city residents gathered to plan and begin a campaign to collect the 6,091 required valid signatures to put a veto referendum against the city council's decision on the ballot. This campaign was led by the movement called Residocracy.org, which was founded by former city council candidate Armen Melkonians. The window to gather referendum signatures ended on March 14, 2014. On March 12, 2014, opponents of the project submitted 13,500 signatures and the city clerk, on April 18, 2014, confirmed that enough of the submitted signatures were valid for a successful referendum petition. Elections code commanded the city council to put the targeted project before voters or repeal it through a council action. Instead of putting the referendum before voters, the council decided on May 13, 2014, to rescind the Bergamot Transit Village "Hines Project" plan.[3][5][4]

Signature requirements

The Santa Monica Charter allows the city initiative, referendum and recall laws to be governed by state law. These laws require that, for a city of over 1,000 residents, an effective referendum petition must contain valid signatures equal in number to ten percent of the registered voters of the city. The most recent full report showed 60,909 registered voters in Santa Monica, which makes the requisite number of signatures to be 6,091. According to the same state statutes, if signatures equaling 15 percent of registered voters are gathered, which is 9,136 in the case of the "Hines Project" referendum, a special election before the general election can be forced. When a referendum petition is successful, the city council can either rescind the targeted law or put it before voters.[7]

Similar measures

Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Sacramento Voter approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act, STOP Initiative (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nationwide Arena Bailout Initiative (May 2014)
Defeatedd City of Eau Claire Voter Approval of Performing Arts Building Initiative (April 2014)
Defeatedd 8 Washington Street-Referendum, Proposition C (November 2013)
Defeatedd 8 Washington Street Development-Initiative, Proposition B (November 2013)

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