The Latest on Santa Monica’s Anti-Development Proposal

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Come this fall, voters in Santa Monica might play a huge role in directly deciding the future of development in their city.

A ballot measure will likely go before voters in November that aims to make it a lot harder for developers to construct new buildings taller than two stories or 32 feet. Here’s how: Under the measure, which is called LUVE, any developer who wants to build beyond those height restrictions, or beyond what the zoning codes allow, would have to get voter approval. Typically, these projects are approved by the city, usually the City Council.

Last month, the residents who wrote the measure collected enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot.

Now, the Santa Monica City Council needs to either OK putting it on the ballot—or avoid the election process by making the measure law. That latter option seems unlikely, according to the pro-growth outlet Santa Monica Next, “given that even one-time allies of Residocracy on the Council have denounced the initiative as too extreme.”

“There’s no question there will be a chilling effect on development, even on projects people like,” said Santa Monica City Councilman Ted Winterer.

He and his colleagues say they don’t know enough yet about potential impacts so they voted unanimously Tuesday to study it and report back in 30 days before making a decision.

The residents who wrote the measure lead a group called “Residocracy.” It formed in 2014 in opposition to several big development projects, including a 420,000-square-foot mixed-user on 2.5 acres at Fourth and Arizona called “The Plaza” and the overhaul of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Ocean.

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