There’s a new Political Action Committee (PAC) in town calling itself Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future—it's funded by big developers with big projects pending before the City Council.
Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future filed its organization papers on Oct. 1 with both the state and city as required by law. Two days later, on October 3, slick full color campaign brochures were distributed directly to homes in support of Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day, Ted Winterer and Shari Davis. On Oct. 8, the PAC's campaign disclosure statement was received by the city stating developers had contributed $175,000 and that’s just as of Sept. 30!
There’s another month to go and the coffers will likely grow. This is serious money aimed at securing a pro-development council.
Who Is Behind the New PAC?
Only residents reading the small print would have any idea who is behind the campaign literature. NMS, a developer of apartments in Santa Monica, is funding this group along with Century West Partners, LLC; Ideal Properties, LLC; and Roberts Business Park-SM, LLC. NMS Properties contributed $100,000 of the $175,000 to fund these slick brochures supporting candidates for city council; the other developers each contributed $25,000.
The developer, NMS Properties has filed plans with the city to build 1,027 new single occupancy apartments in seven locations, asking to exceed the current zoning codes. These projects are in addition to the 97 junior one bedroom and studios at 1447 Lincoln and 50 apartments at 1420 Fifth St. currently under construction.
In August, the city traded land with NMS in downtown Santa Monica to build a new fire station on an NMS property adjacent to the main library. The exchange was for two city lots closer to the new Expo line and the beach. Also in August, NMS received approval of a Development Agreement that allowed it to add four apartments to an existing building. The development agreement was needed to allow the additional apartments without providing the nine parking spaces required by the city's zoning code.
- Roberts Business Park – SM, LLC is the developer of a 300,000 mixed-use project with post-production studio space, creative office space and ground floor neighborhood serving retail & restaurant space and between 169 – 231 rental units. Roberts is seeking a development agreement with the city that will allow them to exceed the current zoning code. Roberts gave $20,000 against Proposition T in 2008, the resident initiative that would have put limits on how much new commercial development could be built annually in Santa Monica.
- Century West Partners, LLC, a Chicago based developer, is currently building K2 LA, a two building, 303-unit luxury apartment development in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. The company website lists property in Santa Monica at 7th and Arizona and 1320 Second St.
- Ideal properties, LLC based in Los Angeles is a private company categorized under Operators of Nonresidential Buildings. It was established in 2007 and incorporated in California. Expect new Santa Monica projects soon.
Why Is it Supporting Ted Winterer?
The name of this pro-development PAC is deceptively similar to the resident-funded Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth PAC that supports slow growth. The close name of the new PAC will likely confuse voters—the exact opposite of transparency. And the inclusion of Ted Winterer as an endorsed candidate adds greatly to the confusion. In fact, the voice mail and email inboxes of neighborhood leaders have filled with messages from confused voters asking how Ted Winterer could possibly be associated with a developer funded PAC.
By including Ted Winterer in their mailers and door delivery brochures, the confusion is heightened because Ted Winterer has consistently voted against the kind of non work force housing that NMS is building all over the city. The type and mix of housing needed in Santa Monica to address the job/housing imbalance that generates much of the traffic congestion is a policy issue for the new City Council to decide. Ted Winterer isn’t pro development and his campaign doesn’t take developer money.
This new, developer PAC is an independent expenditure committee, meaning it independently collect funds and works in support or opposition to a candidate(s) of their choosing. These groups are prohibited from coordinating with candidate campaigns.
When the resident-funded Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth formed, candidates Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day, Shari Davis, Frank Gruber, Tony Vasquez, John C. Smith and Jerry Rubin immediately sent a letter to the PAC demanding information to determine everyone who was behind the PAC and other information citing the need for “transparency.” No such letter has been sent to the new developer funded PAC by these same candidates. Why not?