An initiative to fight overdevelopment and traffic congestion in Santa Monica is probably headed for the November ballot, after the residents’ group that is sponsoring the measure announced that it has collected close to twice as many signatures as required by the deadline.

Proponents of the “Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic,” also known as RIFT, say they collected 10,295 signatures from Santa Monica voters, which were submitted to City Hall Wednesday, April 23rd. By law, the initiative needs the signatures of ten percent of registered Santa Monica voters, or 5,800 signatures, to ensure the initiative is on the local ballot in November.

The Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic would place an annual limit of 75,000 square feet on new commercial development for the next 15 years. Schools, hospitals, religious buildings and other community-serving development would be exempt.

“We found that residents in overwhelming numbers agree with us that development and traffic in our city is ‘out of control’,” said Diana Gordon, co-chair of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, which is sponsoring the initiative. “Santa Monicans are tired of commercial overdevelopment and ever worsening traffic.”

The initiative has been challenged by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce board of directors, which voted unanimously in late March to oppose the measure. Chamber board members claim that Santa Monica residents would probably “suffer decreases in services” if the initiative were implemented.

“The chamber board took this action based upon its belief that RIFT will not reduce traffic congestion but, instead, risks exacerbating the problem while, at the same time, reducing the city’s ability to attract funding for greatly needed mass transit,” Chamber of Commerce chair Tom Larmore contended following the March vote.

Initiative proponents said more than 100 residents gathered signatures to support the movement, which will “give residents the right to control and pace future development and related traffic impacts in Santa Monica.”

Proponents say that commercial development is a prime source of Santa Monica’s growing traffic congestion.

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