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Santa Monica debates: should the public vote on big new developments?




A mixed-use development in Santa Monica on 5th St between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd. The building has retail spaces on the ground level and residential units on the floors above.
A mixed-use development in Santa Monica on 5th St between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd. The building has retail spaces on the ground level and residential units on the floors above.
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New developments and homes are cropping up all over Santa Monica.

And some in the city are saying, "Hold on a minute. This is happening TOO fast!"

So on the November ballot, residents are being asked to make this decision: should every big development in the city be approved in a public vote before it can break ground?

That's the crux of initiative LV – or "LUVE" by its supporters.

Take Two hosts a debate about LV's impact on Santa Monica's skylines and neighborhoods.

Guests: 

Interview highlights

Melkonians: LV will help preserve the low-rise character of Santa Monica

We've been getting a lot of density – buildings and construction and developments – and residents are just rebelling at the amount of growth and the amount of traffic that's being added to our city. It's about quality of life, and about keeping Santa Monica what it is: a gem for the Southland.

Trisler: Santa Monica should create more homes as it grows to be a pedestrian-friendly destination

Santa Monica is becoming a place where people walk, they ride bicycles, they use mass transit to get around. That's how I see the future of Santa Monica. The city of Santa Monica needs to look at more affordable housing, housing that's affordable and market-rate housing.

Melkonians: City Hall is not paying attention to what people want, so LV would place power back in residents' hands

What we're seeing is developers coming in with sky-is-the-limit and trying to negotiate for very little community benefits. We just don't trust our city council to make the correct decision anymore from past experiences. The voters are rebelling and saying that they need the final say.

Trisler: If you don't restrict construction, then more people could live and work in Santa Monica. That means less traffic.

Santa Monica is a pass-through: people are driving into Santa Monica to work, and they're driving home at the end of the day. Can you imagine if we actually had people lived in Santa Monica and worked in Santa Monica? You wouldn't see traffic on the Cloverfield off-ramp. You'd be able to walk or take the train to the Bergamot station and get off. That's where I see the future is.  

Melkonians: The LV initiative will encourage the development of affordable housing

We've created a new class of housing called "moderate-income housing," tied to 120 percent of the area median income. So our initiative will create more affordable housing. 

Trisler: LV will hurt the quality of life and trajectory of growth in Santa Monica.

Seeing how Santa Monica used to be back in the mid-80s, we used to be known as "Skid Row by the sea." When you look at it today, we're known as Silicon Beach. That is the result of development: people come here, they visit here, they want to live here. Development is necessary to be able to provide a quality of life for people to live.