(Note: The Santa Monica Next Steering Committee only makes endorsements when there is unanimous opinion on a ballot measure. We do not endorse political candidates.)

Santa Monica Next urges voters to support ballot measure SMS to fund Santa Monica schools and oppose measure SM that would change the requirement for exemptions to the zoning code to accommodate new development from four votes on the City Council to five votes.

Santa Monica’s schools have a strange dual-reputation. On one hand, SMMUSD is known for producing top students. Our students have an excellent chance to earning admission at a top college or university. Educational opportunities are not limited to the classroom, as clubs and sports encourage students to have a well-rounded experience.

But Santa Monica schools are also known for buildings that, if you’ll excuse the pun, don’t make the grade. Broken circulation systems leave children too hot or too cold many days of the year. Heck, too many schools are utilizing temporary classrooms or don’t meet modern fire and earthquake safety codes.

Measure SMS is a $485 million bond that will be paid off through real estate taxes (four cents per $100 of assessed value) that will be spent to improve our schools’ infrastructure. The bond is supported by groups across the political spectrum including parent’s groups, the League of Women Voters and Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. While Santa Monica schools share a school district with those in Malibu, the entire bond will be collected and spent in Santa Monica.

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Once approved, funds will be used to modernize Santa Monica’s public schools, some of which are over 70 years old. Safety improvements to make the schools’ safer cannot wait another election cycle, and our students deserve modern classrooms to support their education.

While there is a large public campaign urging people to vote Yes on SMS, there is almost no campaign urging people to “vote no” on Measure SM. The measure is so uncontroversial, it was added to the ballot by a unanimous vote of the City Council. A google search for “Non on SM, Santa Monica” produces real estate listings. When one finally gets to a “No on SM” page on google, it sends them to a ballot summary on the city’s website…from 2008.

Googling “No on SM” wasn’t helpful.

While the measure may not be as exciting as other measures on the ballot, it is still one that we find troubling. The regional reality is still that there is an ongoing housing crisis caused primarily by there being not enough houses. Putting in new barriers to construction, even ones that are “uncontroversial” is a move int the wrong direction for Santa Monica and the region.

For these reasons, Santa Monica Next urges a yes vote on SMS and a no vote on SM.