Your opinion story from the Chamber of Commerce about the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic demands a response. The Chamber and City Hall have done absolutely nothing to deal with traffic congestion. If the Chamber and City Hall had not been so irresponsible for so many years we would not need a ballot measure to solve our traffic problems. The sad fact is that the Chamber and City Hall have failed residents year after year and judging from the new General Plan, they are going to continue to fail us.
* * * *
To the Santa Monica Mirror:
I was stunned by Tom Larmore’s article attacking Proposition T and arguing that we need more business as usual when it comes to traffic. Unrestrained development is not good for small business owners. Mr. Larmore and his colleagues have been behind much of this city’s overdevelopment and traffic. The list of large developments they’ve wrought upon Santa Monica include such notables as the Watergarden, where they added tens of thousands of new commuters without providing any significant traffic improvements.
Mr.Larmore and his ilk are why we need Proposition T, because traffic is out of control and going to get a lot worse if residents don’t take matters into their own hands at the ballot box in November.
Former Board Member,
Friends of Sunset Park
* * * *
I am writing in response to the recent letter from the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce about Proposition T – the traffic-fighting initiative.
It is surprising that the Chamber refuses to back off its claim that Prop T would somehow devastate city or school revenue. The Chamber made these same illogical arguments to our City Attorney who has the responsibility to inform the voters if Prop T will have ANY fiscal impacts on future city revenue. The City Attorney’s impartial ballot analysis for Santa Monica voters makes NO finding whatsoever of ANY fiscal impact if Prop T is enacted. Soon, all voters will receive their ballot summary and can determine this for themselves.
Now the Chamber is saying that Prop T is going to drive up rents, create a shortage of medical space, and devastate non-profit organizations.
Another argument and one easy to refute given the history of Santa Monica’s small businesses, most of which aren’t represented in the Chamber.
The Chamber erroneously relies upon a simplistic supply and demand theory to justify their argument that rents for commercial tenants will rise if Prop T passes. If Santa Monica had a large amount of vacant commercial property, the argument might have legs. But the reality is that Santa Monica’s commercial lots already have buildings on them. In order to build a new building, an existing building needs to be torn down. There is a certain bottom line that the rents in new buildings are substantially higher than rents in older buildings.
So the reality is that Prop T would keep rents down by reducing the number of businesses that are forced to move from low rent older buildings, into high rent new buildings. There is a further reality that most small businesses cannot afford the rents in new buildings, and when their older buildings are demolished, they are forced to either leave Santa Monica or go out of business. That’s what has been happening and that’s why Prop T favors independent small businesses over chain stores and box stores in its provisions.
The Chamber also asserts a shortage of medical space that does not exist. Santa Monica, with only 90,000 residents, is served by over 1,500 medical-related businesses and three world class, recently renovated hospitals. Currently, there is existing medical space for lease and the city can allow existing office space to be converted into medical should the need arise for more medical space.
The Chamber’s claim that Prop T will hurt non-profits is also fiction. There are no non-profit organizations facing hardship from Prop T. As the Chamber admits, both the YMCA and OPCC have already completed their developments. The Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club is exempt from Prop T, under the provision that exempts facilities for children. The Santa Monica Red Cross is neutral on Prop T. It has now publicly acknowledged that Prop T will not interfere with its development plans and has also asked the Prop T opposition to kindly remove its name from its literature. The YMCA has raised a similar objection and also insisted that the opposition stop using its name in opposition to Prop T.
Finally, the Chamber makes the silliest claim of all. They claim that commercial development does not create traffic. The Chamber is disputing the findings of every environmental impact report done in the history of this city and our own city traffic engineers who have repeatedly stressed in public hearings that commercial development typically yields three to four times the traffic of residential.
Prop T would simply schedule or “phase” commercial development at 75,000 sq. ft. per year vs. the current 160,000-220,000, and thus reduce the increased traffic associated with commercial development. Its’ the least we can do. Please vote YES on Proposition T.
* * * *
Response to Sasha Stone’s column
Well written commentary, though I don’t watch MSNBC, I am aware of Chris Matthews from NBC on some Sunday mornings. As for the concern about September 11 footage having a “disclaimer” to warn viewers of sensitive material that seems a responsible viewpoint and it is commendable.
Being an “Independent,” though supporting the McCain/Palin team, I don’t actually see the liberal vs. conservative point of view on major network stations – it all seems to be general, if not generic reporting.
The immense coverage of Mrs. Palin is certainly a boost to GOP and I’m waiting for the Democrats to say, “It’s not fair – what about us?”
LA Harbor International Film Festival (LAHIFF)
* * * *
To the Editor:
Why isn’t the news media, including the Santa Monica Mirror, devoting more attention to the true condition of the federal government’s finances?
The nonpartisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation recently published a primer titled “The State of the Union’s Finances.” It’s shocking to see what poor shape the government is really in. Every man, woman and child in this country currently carries a burden of $175,000. This burden will require ever increasing taxes put upon our children OR ever decreasing government services OR, most likely, both. You think your taxes are high now? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
The new publication referred to above can be found at pgpf.org. I hope the Mirror’s editorial board and staff, as well as it’s subscribers, will read it and start asking our elected officials and candidates for office what they plan to do to put the country on a more prudent fiscal path.
There’s a real leadership void among the ranks of officials who are in a position to do something about this. Note that both Presidential Campaigns say nothing about this key issue. Why? Perhaps because it requires Open Discussion, Fiscal Responsibility and Hard Choices, not platitudes, slogans, or partisan finger pointing.
One effective voice on this issue is Mr. David Walker who, until recently, was the Director of the US Government’s General Accountability Office. He selflessly has traveled across the country being the main messenger of a “Fiscal Wake Up Tour” that continues to this day.
It’s time to stop digging our fiscal hole deeper and start figuring out how we are going to get out of it. There are good ideas on the table and they need to be part of the Public Discussion.
I ask the Santa Monica Mirror to devote more attention to this issue. Our future is worth covering – not just our present.
First Out of State Subscriber to the Santa Monica Mirror