The Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT), an initiative that would place an annual limit of 75,000 square feet on new commercial development in Santa Monica for the next 15 years, gathered enough signatures to get a place on the November 2008 ballot, the campaign announced.
Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), which is sponsoring the initiative, reported that they collected 10,295 signatures – nearly twice the 5,800 required (10 percent of the registered voters) – and presented the signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Wednesday, April 23.
Though the City Clerk gave SMCLC a receipt for over 10,200 signatures, it will likely be another month before the count is official for the County Registrar of Voters and it is certainly determined that the measure will be on the November ballot.
“We found that residents in overwhelming numbers agree with us that development and traffic in our city is ‘out of control’,” said Diana Gordon, co-chair of SMCLC. “Santa Monicans are tired of commercial overdevelopment and ever worsening traffic.”
“Equally important is the number of volunteers passionate about the issue who joined the Coalition and spearheaded the petition drive,” she added. “Over 100 residents gathered signatures as part of an historic movement to give residents the right to control and pace future development and related traffic impacts in Santa Monica.”
In general, the proposed initiative would exempt schools, hospitals, religious buildings, and “other community-serving development” from the 75,000-sqare-foot limit, according to SMCLC, which says that the purpose of the initiative is to “fight overdevelopment and traffic congestion in Santa Monica.”
More specifically, “commercial development” subject to the 75,000-square-foot limit is defined to exclude “residential, parking, schools, child or adult day care facilities, hospitals, rest homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, places of worship, government facilities, or neighborhood-serving goods, services, or retail uses that are located on the ground floor of an affordable housing development in which one hundred percent of the dwelling units are designated for affordable housing in a manner approved by the City.”
The measure contains provisions for calculating floor area, credits for replacement/remodel projects, the borrowing of allocations from future years, and transitional considerations.
Critics of the initiative have argued that the inflexible limit is unreasonable, particularly at this time when the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) of the City plan is nearing completion.
Mayor Herb Katz placed an item on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, April 29, “to direct staff to conduct Economic and Fiscal Assessments” for the proposed ballot initiative, and the council approved $100,000 for staff to study the economic impact, possible impact on housing, and other impact’s RIFT could have if approved.