Santa Monica : Hotel Initiative Drive Begins

Santa Monicans for a Livable Environment kicked off its signature-gathering campaign last week for a ballot initiative that would establish a three-year ban on hotel development and use a portion of hotel bed taxes from beachfront hotels to clean up Santa Monica Bay and city parks.

The initiative would exempt beachfront hotels proposed by Maguire Thomas Partners on Ocean Avenue and by Michael McCarty on the site of the Sand and Sea Club on Pacific Coast Highway.

Thom Poffenberger, a consultant to the group, said he expects to collect between 10,000 and 12,000 signatures within four weeks. The signatures of 15% of the city's registered voters, or 8,420 signatures, are need to qualify for the ballot.

A competing initiative circulated by a group called Save Our Beach would ban all hotel development more than 2,000 square feet, including the McCarty and Maguire Thomas projects.

Both initiatives are expected to qualify for the ballot, and a special election may be held as early as November. A spokesman for the city clerk said the city is required to hold a special election within 88 to 103 days after signatures are verified.

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