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Measure LV: Santa Monica voters resoundingly reject anti-development initiative

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A “draconian” proposal to cutoff development in Santa Monica was rejected Tuesday by voters in the booming beachside city, where builders are eager to erect new hotels, shops, condos, and apartments.

Measure LV had the potential to dramatically alter the look and feel of Santa Monica by making it tougher for developers to get approval for buildings taller than 32 feet—or two stories. Rather than seeking the green light from the City Council or its Planning Commission, those projects would have required voter approval.

But at the ballot box Tuesday, voters decided to leave such land use decisions to City Hall. The defeat was decisive. More than 56 percent voters rejected the measure.

A group of residents opposed to a big mixed-user that would soar to 148 feet in downtown Santa Monica and for a major renovation of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue launched the initiative. Supporters have said Measure LV would protect the beachside city’s character by stopping high-rise development. They also sought to prevent traffic on increasingly congested roads from getting worse.

But its critics, including several City Council members who are hesitant about big development, have said the measure went too far. City Manager Rick Cole described it as “draconian.” They feared the requirement would scare off residential developers, when the city sorely needs more housing.

“The anxiety over change is real. But in the end, good sense and good planning prevailed,” Cole said this morning.

Opponents built an impressive campaign war chest, collecting more than $1.15 million to defeat the proposal, according to the Santa Monica Lookout.