I enjoyed Sasha Stone’s kudos to the HBO series John Adams. It was a nice wrap-up as far as it went. But something else made the show a standout this year: Its touches of docu-satire on the Bush Administration. For instance, the episode called “Unnecessary War,” mocking the Bushies misadventures in Iraq. The lines from Adams about how “going to war should be a last resort” and how the guilt of going in would be so great. Then there was the fact that Adams held out for peace instead of war with France, when all around him told him he’d easily win the next election if he went to war. A la Bush in 2004. Adams kept the peace, and, of course, he lost the election. And one more: dig just the time of history it covers – the late 90s to the early 00s. A timely series, indeed, albeit two hundred years earlier. But perhaps Bush screened it in the White House and learned something.
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Mr. Elias’ article on Proposition 98 inadvertently failed to fully grasp how dangerous this initiative really is. As a lawyer and chair person of the Santa Monica Rent Control Board in my personal opinion this initiative, if passed, will throw thousands of our long-term and most vulnerable tenants out of their apartments by the end of the summer. But this deliberately deceptive initiative does much more. It will greatly contribute to overdevelopment, further clogging our streets and schools and endanger the public health. Let me explain.
You only need to get to the third line of the attorney general’s analysis to see that this initiative will “abolish” rent control and allow landlords to evict any tenant without cause. This means that thousands of long-term tenants who have never been late for a rent payment will get eviction notices the day after it passes and will have absolutely no recourse but to move or pay double or triple their rent.
If you are a homeowner and want reasonable limits to check overdevelopment, this initiative says you are out of luck. This initiative will gut our city’s zoning laws meaning that if your neighbor wants to knock down his garage and put up condos or an adult book store, our city will be powerless to stop him unless they reimburse him for “taking” away his right to run a business out of his backyard.
But wait there is more. If you care about your children’s health and the water they drink and the food they eat, you should oppose Proposition 98. This initiative will cripple farmers and water districts that supply most of our drinking water from being able to build the infrastructure to meet our water needs. That is why organizations as diverse as the California Chamber of Commerce, the National Resources Defense Council, the League of Cities, and the Sierra Club all oppose proposition 98.
The real eminent domain measure on the ballot is Proposition 99. Proposition 99 says that if the government wants your home, you can either sell it for a fair price or refuse and no one can ever make you sell once you refuse. But this simple and clear initiative was not enough for real estate developers and speculators so they spent millions to bankroll their initiative Proposition 98. If Proposition 99 gets more votes than Proposition 98, then that misleading and dangerous initiative will not become law. Voters need to remember to Vote Yes on 99 and everything will be fine. Vote no on 98, since that is a proposition that everyone should hate. So remember 98 – we hate, but 99 is fine.
Joel C. Koury
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On Tuesday evening the City Council sent the 2617 Third Street project back to the drawing board with instructions to make the proposal compatible with the surrounding buildings in the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District. By doing so, it was acknowledging that the present design is not compatible and does not comply with the District Guidelines.
Rather than denying the applicant’s appeal outright, certain council members sought to appease both the applicant and his architect on the one hand and the residents and their supporters on the other and avoided the responsibility of making a definitive decision on the project. The architect will have to redraw his plans and the project will essentially return to square one, the Landmarks Commission, where it was first heard last June. This remanding of the project to the Landmarks Commission was the result of a suggestion made to Mayor Katz by the project architect, Michael Folonis, who is doubtless doing his best to prevent the denial of the project.
One has to ask whether it is fair of the Council to ask residents to attend even one more Landmarks hearing on a project that has already been through so many hearings. The citizens of Santa Monica have a right to expect the City Council to uphold the City’s own ordinances and guidelines rather than obliging residents to assume that burden. Since the mayor and his fellow council member Pam O’Connor are so clearly intent on supporting the project and/or vilifying the citizens who oppose it, one also has to question their motivation.
It would be good to see a Santa Monica free of special interests and unspoken agendas. In November four of the current councilmembers (Mayor Katz, Richard Bloom, Bobby Shriver, and Ken Genser) will be facing the end of their current terms in office. With the RIFT initiative also likely to be on the ballot, local politics is going to be lively this fall. Residents across the city want to see their elected officials acting in the best interests of citizens. There is considerable unhappiness, manifested in the collection of around 10,000 signatures by RIFT campaign organizers, among the City Council’s constituents. Is the Historic District currently a victim of special interests in the city? To the beleaguered residents it certainly feels that way.
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I have been on a liquid-only protest fast since February 27 (Mr. Nader’s birthday) making an appeal for Ralph Nader to drop out of the Presidential election. Today, April 27 is of course two months. I am challenging Mr. Nader to a debate regarding the question of his candidacy’s progressiveness. He always wants to be included in the Presidential debates, but why is he afraid to debate me?
I am continuing my fast and hope to hear from him.