The Councilmember Discussion Items section of the bi-monthly Santa Monica City Council agenda is rarely a time for fireworks. Requested items placed on the second to last section of the agenda are usually quickly – and casually – discussed before moving forward to public comment.
However, a requested item on the June 24 agenda to consider drafting a ballot initiative to restrict heights for future developments near the Santa Monica coastline not only featured multiple perspectives during public testimony but also fizzled enough on the dais where no one seconded the proposed motion, not even one of the two council members who attached himself to the proposal.
Council members Kevin McKeown and Ted Vazquez sought to have at least two of their colleagues join them in directing City staff to “draft a possible ballot measure requiring that any development along Ocean Avenue exceeding existing zoning shall require approval by the voters of the City of Santa Monica and return said draft to the Council on July 8 for consideration.”
Essentially, McKeown proposed to give voters the final say for any developments proposed along or in the immediate vicinity of Ocean Avenue that would exceed zoning restrictions.
When McKeown made a motion to move the discussion forward, no one stepped up to make a second.
As with all items subject to the council’s vote, a discussion cannot happen on the item until a motion is presented by one council member and seconded by another.
With McKeown and Vazquez both listed on the council’s agenda as requesting this proposal be discussed at the June 24 council meeting, it was interesting that Vazquez was not the person to second McKeown’s motion.
However, McKeown’s motion failed to receive any support from the dais. Accordingly, there was no further discussion or vote.
When explaining his support for a possible ballot initiative, McKeown said the Santa Monica coastline was a “cherished asset” and needed to be protected from being sold to the highest bidders.
“History shows that Santa Monicans care passionately about our coastline,” McKeown said, referring to proposed plans to build a hotel island and the passage of Proposition S limiting the building of hotels west of Ocean Avenue. “I think it’d be a good idea to … [make] it clear that our most cherished asset, which is the coastline, the skyline along our beach, is not up for grabs.”
Supporters of McKeown’s and Vazquez’s proposal said the recommended ballot measure would protect the interests of Santa Monica residents and foster community discussion.
One resident who disagreed with the ballot initiative idea said it does not do enough to properly protect Santa Monica’s residents living just east of the coastline region.
“This initiative is nothing more than a teeny tiny band aid on a disease that is spreading throughout our city,” resident Laura Wilson-Hausle told council members. “You are moving downtown into our residential neighborhoods and destroying them.”