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A volunteer Santa Monica grass roots movement has until March 14 to collect signatures from 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters – about 6,100 people – to veto Hines’ 765,095 mixed-use development at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A volunteer Santa Monica grass roots movement has until March 14 to collect signatures from 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters – about 6,100 people – to veto Hines’ 765,095 mixed-use development at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

News, City Council, Development, Santa Monica

Referendum Campaign To Veto Hines Development In Full Swing

Posted Feb. 14, 2014, 9:29 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

In a predictable series of events Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the Hines development agreement (DA) officially moved forward and a group of residents carried through with the launch of a referendum campaign to veto the now-approved Bergamot Transit Village (BTV) at the previous Papermate facility at 1681 26th Street.

The first proverbial shoe dropped in the early stages of the Santa Monica City Council’s Tuesday meeting, when council members voted 4-3 during a second reading to approve the Hines DA, allowing Hines 26th Street LLC to move forward with its proposed BTV project. If realized in its current iteration, the project would bring a 765,095 square-foot mixed-use development to the corner of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

Less than 24 hours later, the second shoe predictably dropped: about 250 residents gathered for a meeting at the SGI Culture of Peace Resource Center in Santa Monica to begin the referendum process in an attempt to veto the BTV project., a volunteer grass roots movement founded by resident and former City Council candidate Armen Melkonians, spearheaded the referendum campaign, including the Wednesday night meeting at the SGI Plaza on Wilshire Boulevard.

Both the council vote on second reading and the residency campaign launch at SGI followed a vote last weekend by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR). On Feb. 8, the SMRR steering committee voted 9-1 to support a referendum campaign.

The referendum campaign also gained the support of other resident groups such as Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), Mid-City Neighbors, and Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition (Wilmont), among others.

Also attending the referendum launch were representatives from SMRR such as Patricia Hoffman and Denny Zane, former Santa Monica mayor Michael Feinstein, Recreation & Parks commissioner Phil Brock, former director of Pico Youth and Family Center Oscar de la Torre, and several representatives of the neighborhood and resident groups.

Melkonians, through his website, took the initiative in coordinating the referendum campaign launch and spent about $2,500 in printing signature packets to ultimately submit to City Hall. Some of those in attendance donated money to to help offset some of the costs.

Those signature packets are almost 400 pages each. There are more than 110 entries for signatures in each packet, which also includes the actual 375-page DA.

According to Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman, those who support a referendum have a 30-day window to collect signatures and submit them to her office. The clock began ticking Tuesday evening, when council members lodged its 4-to-3 vote during second reading – which means the signatures must be ready by March 14.

How many signatures are required? By law, at least 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters must submit signatures in support of the referendum. In the 2012 election, there were 60,909 registered voters in the City, which means at least 6,091 verifiable signatures in favor of the referendum must be submitted to Gorman’s office by March 14.

If enough signatures were gathered by the deadline, then a decision would be made about scheduling the referendum.

According to Gorman and former Santa Monica mayor Michael Feinstein, it is too late to have a referendum on the June ballot.

Therefore, only two options exist: either have a special election with voters heading to the polls solely to vote on whether or not to allow the Hines DA to move forward; or, have the referendum appear on the November ballot amidst other measures and offices.

If the special election route were chosen, there would be significant costs involved, whereas placing the referendum on the November ballot would not incur any additional taxpayer expenditures.

The exact costs for a special election has not yet been determined, though The Mirror anticipates having greater perspective of the finances involved in the next week.

Indeed, more specifics of the referendum will be included in The Mirror’s next article on this issue, including potential costs of a special election, what happened in previous referendums in Santa Monica, and potential strategies from the organized residents, City Hall, and the developer.

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Feb. 14, 2014, 10:10:06 am

xboomer said...

I am in favor of the Hines project. Since it is planed to be a mixed use project, I would hope that the thousands of people who work in the Water Gardens and the other large business buildings would want to move to the Hines project and take advantage of living so close to their jobs. Sure would save a lot gas and free up the roads since they could walk to work.

Feb. 14, 2014, 11:10:08 am


The question to me is not the traffic ... which will be clogging up the area. The real question is the environment and the use and over use of the utilities. The other question is the runoff and the use and over use of our sewer system. The other question is the use and over use of our waste system. The use and over use of the maintenance of our streets and the need for additional trash pickups. Traffic might end up being minor inconvenience when comparing that to the above concerns I just raised. What are your thoughts?

Feb. 14, 2014, 11:13:09 am


Additional thoughts… We are in a major drought … what about the overuse of water. The traffic problem might end up being minor inconvenience when comparing that to the above concerns I just raised. As to the referendum … make it very simple and uncompleted …. Simply propose that a vote to oppose the current project as presented and passed by the council on Feb 11, 2014 cancels the stated project as presented. I am sure that an individual, well versed at creating referendums can be found to right a non-wordy statement. What are your thoughts?

Feb. 14, 2014, 11:31:24 am

Henry Hall said...

This project is a disaster for our city and must be stopped.

Feb. 14, 2014, 1:20:04 pm

D'Lynn Waldron said...

I back the comment that our utilities CANNOT support the massive over-development being inflicted on our Santa Monica. It is the citizens of Santa Monica who will suffer the consequences and pay the financial cost, not these developers who will make their money and run. To the list of problems, I add the additional classrooms and teachers when these multi-family structures pay just a single parcel tax to support education.

Feb. 14, 2014, 4:49:43 pm

Jonathan Mann said...

I was there last night and fully support the effort that Armen is making. He was my favorite candidate in the last election and I hope he will be able to collect enough signatures. In a small way this grass roots, participatory democracy effort uses some of my ideas and is a step in the right direction for a Virtual Town Hall on the city website. Unfortunately Bill Bauer was able to maneuver Armen into saying he would not attempt to use the referendum process for recall which would I believe would generate get a LOT more publicity, and support for a special election. Whether the effort is successful or not, just the attempt will gain Armen recognition and credibility. The only thing that concerns me is no one is talking about the elephant in the room, which is that the SMRR Steering Committee and some SMRR rank and file members who are feeding off the public trough, along with city employees, benefit from the increased revenues accrued from development. Let's not forget that SMRR put six of the seven members on the council, INCLUDING the four who voted to approve this project. The Mirror should do some investigative journalism on the corrupt cronyism existing in this city, and expose those SMRR members who are making six figure incomes, like KevinMcKeown...

Feb. 15, 2014, 10:51:33 am

Todd said...

Investigate the Mayor and council. Remember the city of Bell a few years ago??

Feb. 19, 2014, 11:18:49 am

Lynn Sturgis said...

Can anyone shed any light on something I heard? That one of the City Councilmembers took money from Hines to pay off their election bills.....and then voted FOR this project. Perhaps not illegal, but certainly questionable. I think if this is true, then that Councilmember should have recused themselves from the vote.

Feb. 21, 2014, 11:47:22 am

dante spinotti said...

Just give me the simple way to vote AGAINST the Bergamot development

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