Santa Monica Lookout
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Another Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Joins Council Race

Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City Council


Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


By Jorge Casuso

August 3, 2012 -- Santa Monica Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon -- a bicycle advocate known to push developers for more community benefits -- pulled papers Tuesday in the race for four open seats on the City Council.

McKinnon -- who is the second Planning Commissioner to enter the race -- was one of six candidates, including former Council member Tony Vazquez, who pulled papers during the past two weeks, swelling the ranks of council hopefuls to 20.

Potential candidates have until August 10 to pull papers and collect 100 signatures from registered voters living in Santa Monica.

Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer, who often votes on the same side of the issues as McKinnon, was endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights last month and will be part of the powerful tenants group's slate.

“I have great respect for Richard’s intellect and his passion for Santa Monica," Winterer told The Lookout. "I’m sure he’ll make the council race more interesting for all those involved.”

McKinnon was out of town on business and could not be reached for comment.

McKinnon's candidacy had triggered speculations that the two commissioners will be supported by such anti-growth coalitions as Santa Monicans for a Livable City, which supported Winterer in his two previous bids, and Santa Monicans Against the Miramar Expansion.

There also is speculation that the Huntley Hotel, which bankrolled the opposition to the Miramar expansion, would get behind the two commissioners, who cast the only votes not to recommend that the City enter into a Development Agreement.

Huntley owner Sohrab Sassounian did not return a request for comment by deadline.

At the February 22 commission meeting, McKinnon said the Miramar's proposed project was "monolithic and the design is terrible.” He also called the proposed benefits in the DA “pitiful.”

The Miramar presented the City Council with four different designs at its April 24 meeting, when the council voted 6 to 1 to enter into DA negotiations, with Council member Kevin McKeown casting the dissenting vote.

The proposed project would add as many as 120 condominiums on the upper floors of three new buildings replacing the two main buildings currently on the site.

In addition to Vazquez and McKinnon, other council hopefuls who pulled papers in the past two weeks are Jonathan Mann, who would be making a record 11th council bid, and Terence Later, who ran in 2008 and 2010.

Also pulling papers were newcomers Jon Beau Lee and Fred Lotterly.

In addition, to the six most recent hopefuls, former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber, education activist Shari Davis, community activist Jerry Rubin, and incumbents Terry O'Day and Gleam Davis pulled papers.

Linda Armstrong also pulled papers, marking her fifth council bid, while Robert Seldon, an attorney who co-founded Northeast neighbors, will be running for the first time.

Newcomers Michael Shaver, John Cyrus Smith, Steve Duron, Roberto Gomez, Steven Senft and Armen Melkonians also pulled papers.

The council race has drawn an unusually large field of candidates after two incumbents indicated they would not run, leaving two open seats on the council for the first time in more than two decades.

Mayor Richard Bloom, who is in a November runoff for the 51st Assembly District, has announced he will not seek reelection, while Shriver has said privately that he doesn't plan to run and is exploring making a bid for LA County Supervisor.

Jason Islas contributed to this report.

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