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Outsiders fight Santa Monica's anti-growth measure with big bucks

October 24, 2008 | 10:00 am

Honk_if_you_hate_gridlock

The website for Measure T, the ballot measure that targets the Westside's crazy-making (seriously, have you driven there lately?) traffic by limiting development, says that, at last, Santa Monica residents are taking charge of the fate of their gridlocked city. But opponents of the measure have collected $730,000, and much of that comes from people who don't live in the city. Our Westside expert, Martha Groves, has the details:

Much of the money aimed at defeating Measure T, which would limit expansion of hotels, offices and retail space to 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years, has been raised by developers -- some based as far away as New York, Houston and Chicago.

Supporters of the slow-growth measure fear that developers and development-related interests are now on track to raise $1 million by Nov. 4 and will skew the election with their donations.

"When you have truckloads of out-of-town money pouring into an election in this small a town, it's no longer about the issues. It's about the money," said Diana Gordon, who helped create the Residents' Initiative to Fight Traffic, which gave rise to the ballot measure.

According to campaign disclosure filings, the Save Our City-No on T campaign has collected $729,771.

Topping the list of out-of-town donors is Equity Office Properties of Chicago, which owns a Santa Monica office park and has given $140,000. Hines, a Houston-based company that plans to build 300,000 square feet of office space at the former Papermate site at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard, has kicked in $99,000.

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel, owned by New York-based MSD Capital (an investment firm that manages the capital of computer magnate Michael Dell), gave $49,900, just skirting the $50,000 threshold that would require it to be listed on campaign materials as a major donor.

Local donors kicked in as well, with $105,000 coming from land owner Belle Vue Plaza, and a flurry of smaller amounts donated by lawyers, a car dealership and some architects.

Supporters of Measure T, meanwhile, plan a rally today featuring a local lawmaker -- Bobby Shriver, who sits on the Santa Monica City Council, and L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. Yes, Rosendahl's an out-of-towner, but his equally traffic-choked district abuts Santa Monica. Martha's full story is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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