Friday, November 7, 2008

The Real Message from the Rejection of Proposition T

The Blame Game has begun. With the rejection Proposition T, RIFT supporters have unleashed a barrage of explanations and recriminations. These mostly deal with the money spent by “out of state” developers. We’ve also been reminded that virtually half of Santa Monicans supported the measure.

Supporters of Prop T seemed to miss the message imbedded in the vote.

This was not a close election. By example, I would point out that the gap between the two presidential candidates was 7%, and no one is arguing that it was a nail biter. The margin of victory of Prop T was 12%. This was a fairly sound rejection of the measure. While Prop T supporters argue that 16,000 folks voted for it, it should be noted that 20,000 residents voted against it.

Yet, I read and hear that this election was bought and paid for by “greedy” developers who subverted the residents’ wishes. The suggestion by the Prop T proponents that these 20,000 voters were somehow duped or misled is naive. That their vote somehow distorts the “residents,” wishes or that they are somehow less representative of the "community" is insulting. Prior to the election, I was told more than once by Prop T proponents that Santa Monicans are smart, that they would “see-through the developer mis-information.” So either, all of a sudden we’ve gotten dumb, or 20,000 Santa Monicans thought Prop T was not good policy. If the Prop T supporters don’t at least consider this in their post-election introspection than they are deceiving themselves.

Even the Santa Monica Mirror, hardly a tool of the development community rejected Prop T in its endorsements. The paper argued, as have many others, that the City has undertaken a public planning process, albeit a slow one, resulting in a plan known as LUCE, as imperfect it is, that ought to be respected. It is neither a top down document, nor is it the product of a handful of community advocates, but one with a whole host of authors , contributors and critics.

Clearly Santa Monica is not a monolithic community. It does not have one resident constituency, but many. It is a constituency that will continue to evolve in unpredictable directions. LUCE is a document that is full of compromises reflecting the heterogeneity of opinion to be found in this wonderful city. This election seems to me to be an acknowledgement of those differences and shows respect for this multi-year process. That’s the message I think we should be taking from last Tuesday’s Election Day.

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