Last week, Newport Beach Councilman Tom Thomson became the only City
Council member to come out in support of the Greenlight initiative -- a
measure that would require public votes on major developments in the
city. The movement has evolved out of a growing antidevelopment sentiment
among many city residents.
Thomson, who has been a councilman for nearly four years, is not your
typical Greenlight supporter.
He's a real estate broker who, in his last campaign, was endorsed by the
Chamber of Commerce, an organization that is ardently opposed to
In his time on the council, Thomson has never met a major development
project he didn't like.
And just listen to Thomson's own words regarding his conversion to a
"I'm sure many of us are tired of seeing every square inch being
developed to its maximum," he said. "There were 9,000 people that signed
that petition to do something about unbridled growth."
Maybe we are wrong. Maybe Thomson has had some sort of epiphany that has
caused him to reject his pro-development past and stand on the side of
environmentalists and City Hall critics.
We think we have a more likely answer: Thomson is already thinking about
next November's election.
On that ballot will be the Greenlight initiative; but more importantly,
Thomson's seat will be up for re-election.
By declaring his support for Greenlight now, Thomson could manage to take
the steam out of any opponent who might use the measure as a campaign
Don't forget. It was Phil Arst, one of the fathers of Greenlight, who
lost to Thomson four years ago.
Here's what really makes us skeptical.
Only hours after Thomson told us he supported the measure, he tried to
take the statement back. All it took for him to waver was a call from a
powerful business leader, apparently, questioning Thomson's new
Ultimately, he stuck with his new pro-Greenlight position with the sudden
caveat that he'd like it to come under "further study."
We have a suggestion for Thomson. If indeed the councilman has decided to
fall squarely behind Greenlight, he should say so loud and clear and
become a major supporter.
Time will tell whether Thomson's new slow-growth stance is a heartfelt
change of principles or an election year ploy.
We hope it's the former.