From Renters Write - March 2013

Elections Matter

— Especially when we win

Elections matter. SMRR-recommended candidates won every Santa Monica seat in November 2012, adding two of our fellow SMRR members to the City Council: Tony Vazquez and Ted Winterer.

Tony returns with experience. He previously served as a SMRR-backed Councilmember in the early 90s. Ted was top vote-getter in this most recent election, earning support from renters and slow-growth advocates city-wide.

Your efforts and your votes to put Ted and Tony on the Council mean that SMRR values and renter concerns will continue to be at the top of the City agenda at a time when Santa Monica faces serious challenges and difficult decisions. With the state’s dismantling of redevelopment agencies, finding ways to build new affordable housing and protect working families will require teamwork on the Council.

New Councilmembers Ted and Tony joined me in actions to protect environmental safeguards in the local development process. Ted worked with re-elected Councilmember Gleam Davis to strengthen and better focus our affordable housing incentives.

SMRR leadership continues to make Santa Monica a uniquely livable city. In the next year, we’ll all get to enjoy the magnificent new Tongva Park. Located between City Hall and the Pier, it was named for the tribe indigenous to present-day Santa Monica. The area immediately in front of City Hall, likewise transformed, has been named Ken Genser Square after our much-missed former SMRR Mayor.

Parks aren’t all that will be new. As the Council crafts land use plans for downtown and the Bergamot Station area, our SMRR platform will inform our decision-making. It will be SMRR-backed Councilmembers negotiating with developers for community benefits there and in projects elsewhere in our city, meaning that affordable housing and fair wages will remain top priorities.

Sometimes what we already have is better than any “improvement” a developer could offer. A major theme of our new zoning code, being written this year, will be neighborhood conservation. With a SMRR-backed majority on the City Council, we can make sure the existing rental housing we live in doesn’t get displaced by luxury condos or other gentrified housing that we current residents can’t afford. Our seniors can continue to live out their lives in peace, with housing security into their later years, and working families will have stable, safe neighborhoods in which to raise kids.

Those kids will also enjoy excellent public school educations in Santa Monica, thanks to SMRR. The City Council has entered into an unprecedented ten-year agreement with SMMUSD, our school district, assuring ongoing funding so our SMRR-majority school board can make longer term plans for better schools.

Santa Monica’s leadership on environmental issues dates back to early SMRR-backed Councils. We are moving toward power and water self-sufficiency, and making progress on our goal of zero waste. Recently we have added “Sustainable Food Choices” and “Culture and The Arts” to our Sustainable City Plan, acknowledging the need to nurture not just the body, but the spirit, too.

Look around you and see what SMRR has accomplished. Look ahead, and see a brighter future because local government represents you, the renter majority in Santa Monica.

Thank you for your support of SMRR candidates. We will now do our best to serve you with a responsive City Hall. Please keep in mind that your concerns are important to us. You can attend and participate at City Council meetings, email us with ideas or suggestions, or join other volunteers who serve on our Santa Monica boards and commissions. This is a better city because we’re all in it together.