Renters Faction Prevails


Renters rights advocates, who have dominated Santa Monica politics for more than a decade, held on to a majority of City Council posts with the reelection Tuesday of two incumbent council members and the capture of a vacant seat.

Another incumbent, with more conservative leanings, retained her position.

Incumbents Ken Genser and Paul Rosenstein, who are affiliated with Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, claimed a narrow victory over 11 challengers. Michael Feinstein, an environmentalist and member of the renters rights group, won a seat vacated by Councilwoman Judy Abdo.

Also on the seven-member council is renters rights group member Pam O'Connor.

Incumbent Councilwoman Asha Greenberg, who was backed by the Coalition for a Safe Santa Monica, a group that advocates a tough stand against the city's homeless population, was reelected.

A wide field of candidates with varied interests--from business community leaders to advocates for the homeless--jockeyed for four seats in a genial election in which most candidates agreed that the city was headed in the right direction. Several cited the success of the Third Street Promenade.

Some city political observers believed that the renters rights group was vulnerable to losing its long-held council majority because of the departure of Abdo. Rosenstein, who ran an independent campaign despite his membership in the group, said he believes the city will follow policies to rejuvenate its commercial districts, protect renters and provide a welcoming respite for the homeless.

"I think the general direction the city is going in will continue," he said.

Feinstein ran a campaign calling for more city parks and open space, more city support of the school district and free alternative-energy shuttles to ease traffic resulting from new development.

"The city has ignored the development of more open space and has not conditioned development on the capacity of our public transit infrastructure," said Feinstein, who works as a staff member of the Green Party and is a businessman.

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