Santa Monica Dispatch

The Santa Monica Dispatch is an independent newspaper founded and edited by Peggy Clifford. Our objective is to give voice to the community.

Monthly archives "February 2010"

Democratic Statewide Candidates Forum

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On fheir way to the state’s June  primary, many of the Democratic candidates will spend Sunday afternoon, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the

Olympic High School Cafeteria at  721 Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica)

The forum is being  sponsored by:

Santa Monica Democratic Club, Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, Progressive For

Forbore information, contact Jonathan Troen, 310 560 4317, jonathan@troen.net

Democrats of Los Angeles.

Whither…surprise

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By Ava Tramer

Beaches

Mostly sunny with some showers

Highs: 62-70; Lows: 45-53

Inland

Partly cloudy

Highs: 62-72; Lows: 37-40

Deserts

Mostly sunny

Highs: 62-72; Lows: 37-45

And Santa Monica…

Commericials fade out.  Focus on announcer:

“Welcome back, I’m Rob Coastos.  We return now to the ultimate test of ability, and with only three players left in this final round, it’s sure to be exciting.  And here’s the starting bell!  The sun races across Wilshire, clouds following closely behind, and rain falling into third.  But now clouds are taking the lead as they head over San Vicente, but wait!  The rain is dashing into first.  Clouds and rain are neck and neck, and now, wow, the sun is pulling into first as they head towards the pier and it’s going to be….THE SUN crossing the finish line with the gold!  Ladies and gentlemen, what a race that was!  We’ll be back after these messages.”

Screen goes to black.

Rob’s audio still on: “Jeez, Bert, can you get any more predictable than that?  I’m sick of the favorites always winning the race.  I can’t keep trying to act like there’s any suspense about this any more… what?  I can’t hear you.  What?  Oooooh…”  We hear the rumpled sound of a microphone being fiddled with.

The People’s Choice

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By Susan Hartley

Santa Monica is up for grabs again.  Forget about residents’ votes in the most recent election.  Forget about democracy.  That doesn’t happen in Santa Monica.  SMRR and the developers are at it again.

Ted Winterer was the obvious choice for Herb Katz’s seat last year because he received the next most votes in the November 2008 election.  Instead, SMRR and developers’ backroom machinations gave us Gleam Davis, who didn’t even run in 2008.  Now they’re pushing for another non-candidate Terry O’Day.  Not only has he never been the people’s choice, didn’t even run in 2008, but he has a history of being ultra pro-development, pushing for more and higher developments.  Cry for Santa Monica.

Ted Winterer was next in line as the people’s choice.  The vacant council seat should be his.

Susan Hartley

Who’s Confused?

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According to a recent headline in SurfSantaMonica – “Multiple Development Agreements

Confusing Public, McKeown Says”

City  Councilman Kevin McKeown prides himself on listening to  and responding to residents.

But, in this instance, not only did he misread residents’ state of mind, and, manage, in the doing, to insult them, his response is still in the works. .

He is  scheduled to ask his Council  colleagues  at Tuesday night’s meeting to join him in directing the  staff to “briefly forego”

bringing  development agreements  to the Planning Commission and  the Council, until the new  land use plan (LUCE) is adopted and new standards are set.

The so-called public is  not “confused” by development agreements. They see them for

what they are  – devices that are meant to ease the passage of mega-projects by expanding the staff’s  authority and short-circuiting the public review process.

Nearly two years ago, in the belief that what has happened would happen, Santa Monicans for a Livable City and the neighborhood organizations asked the City to declare  a moratorium on new commercial development until the LUCE was adopted. The state has approved such moratoriums. The City refused. It also refused a subsequent request by the same groups to make no  development agreements until the new rules

are written.

Where were McKeown and the  other Council members then?   When the question of the moratorium came up, the City  Attorney said, “It would be difficult

to craft.” And that was that.

Apparently, it did not occur to  anyone that an iconic beach town

Is far more difficult to craft than a legal  document, and even more difficult to protect from the advancing hordes of developers with big ideas.

Santa Monica has been in land use  limbo since the expiration of the  1984 plan in 2004. Restdents were glad to see the end of it, as it  had overrun its own stated  limits  by 1996, but construction of more  commercial projects continued  unabated.

Without a moratorium or a ban on development agreements, residents believed the the  City would use  this limbo as an opportumiy to impose its planning preferences on Santa Monica, add more and bigger  commercial  developments, and, in that way, codify them before new  standards were established.

McKeown’s measure may fail Tuesday night. For one thing, the Planning Commission has already

reviewed a number of major  and controversial projects. For another, at least two Council members – Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor and Richard Bloom — have taken campaign contributions from developers and may be disinclined

Here and now, we’d all be better off, if the Council spent more time listening to residents, which is, after   all, what they’re elected to do, and less time listening to staff, assorted consultants and “experts,” and  developers

Council’s ClearChoice

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Though there are seven candidates for  the vacant seat on the Santa Monica City Council, only three of the seven are apt to  make the cut Tuesday night when the  Council is scheduled to choose the  late Ken Genser’s successor.

The three are Oscar de la Torre, Terry O’Day and Ted Winterer.

De la Torre founded and heads the Pico Family and  Youth Center, is a member and former President of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and a leader of the new campaign to  end gang violence in Santa Monica (see “White Paper” below). A dedicated community leader, de la Torre would be a fine City Council member.

But  this community needs him to remain where he is – resolving the School District’s financial crisis   without depriving our children of the education they need and deserve, offering  young people the means to determine their own destinies, and  continuing his vital role as  spokesperson and advocate for  unrepresented residents, and unpopular causes.

O’Day’s trajectory has been quite  different. He was appointed to the Planning Commission, served as  Chair for a while, but resigned before his term was up. He next surfaced as a  City Council candidate, but finished out of the money.

In his next incarnation, O’Day co-charted, with Judy Abdo, “Save Our City.” Its sole  reason for being was to kill a residents’ ballot measure

(RIFT)_ that would limit annual commercial growth.

The group collected $800,000 from developers and mounted an elaborate campaign that was based on an utterly false and ominous premise: that limiting commercial growth would  put our schools in jeopardy.

The measure lost. Santa Monica lost. , O’Day, Abdo and the developers won.t

Ted Winterer co-wrote the ballot  measure and made limiting commercial growth the centerpiece of his campaign fot a Council seat in 2008.

Winterer worked with Santa Monicans for a Livable City, which spearheaded  the limited growth measure, has been president of  the  Ocean Park Association and a Parks and Rec Commissioner.

He ran fifth in the 2008 election, directly behind the four incumbents. When Herb Katz died a month after  being re-elected, it was widely thought that, given his strong showing in the election, Winterer  should fill the  vacancy.

He was nominated, as were the co-chairs if Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR).

SMRR Co-chair and Planning  Commissioner Gleam Davis won the requisite four votes on the seventh ballot, and the seat, giving SMRR a 5-2 majority.

When Davis resigned from the  Planning Commission, the Council

appointed Winterer to replace her..

Ironically, Winterer and his colleagues are now in the midst of reviewing nearly two million square  feet of proposed commercial projects clustered in the southeast section of  the city. Residents appear at every meeting to  criticize the projects’ size, designs, number and location.

Clearly, more voters should have ignored O’Day and company’s scare tactics and approved Winterer’s  measure and elected him to the  Council in 2008. The Council

can finally do the right thing Tuesday night and appoint Winterer to

the Council. å

If the six members fail to agree on  one person, they are required to set a special election, which would be held in June.

Doing the Math for City Hall

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Jeanne Laurie

Sunset Park

Recent development proposals make it obvious that they would be a dramatic burdens to the people in the neighborhood and the people of Santa Monica

There is already far too much traffic in Santa Monica, and especially along the Olympic Corridor.  The traffic now is at road rage levels.  It isn’t a figure of speech, it is a fact that pedestrian traffic moves faster than the cars.  The problem with being a pedestrian is that it is dangerous because of the level of traffic.  Drivers are so anxious to get into the intersection or on to the freeway that they are not paying attention to pedestrians.  Drivers have abandoned civility and good sense.  The cars not only choke the flow of traffic, they block the flow of traffic.  Cars enter intersections where there is no chance of clearing the intersection before the light turns red.

Paramedics would not be able to get to injured people because no car has room to get over to let an ambulance or fire department vehicle approach the scene.  It wouldn’t take much creativtiy for some ambulance chasers to sue the city for lack of services that resulted in deaths.  How much has the city paid for the Farmers Market crash?  And, I don’t believe the city was at fault for that.  But lawyers did.

How many deaths is one development worth?  How many mangled cars and injured people?  How many stress claims and angry or violent people?  One facility would be bad enough by itself, but it is combined with a horrific number of other developments in the same area.  No matter how many dollars these buildings would bring to the city coffers or personally profit designated individuals, it is not worth the problems it will cause for the residents of Santa Monica.   None of the so-called enhancements do anything to mitigate traffic or lower the levels of traffic.

It doesn’t make any difference how you play with words or do “Hollywood accounting.”  The developers claim that the number of car trips will be reduced by 50%.  The number of car trips will DRAMATICALLY increase.  If you take 50 percent away from an imaginary number, it still leaves THOUSANDS more car trips to intensify the anger of drivers and annoy the resident

How much business is the City of Santa Monica going to lose because people outside Santa Monica will not want to go to Santa Monica to shop or be entertained.   Check with the Music Center people about how many subscribers they have lost because people don’t want to be aggravated by driving downtown.  There is lots of local theater.  People don’t have to put up with the traffic going downtown.

There are also lots of shops, bars, restaurants, and movie theaters elsewhere.  Why put up with mind-grinding traffic when there ar so many other places that don’t have the traffic nightmare that is Santa Monica

How much of a drain on the city’s resources will all these buildings cost?  How much more water will be used?  How many more paramedics will be needed? Where is all the trash generated going?  I didn’t see any solar panels in the design.

What happened to LUCE?  The allowed space for LUCE is already far more than the city can handle.  Then before the ink is dry on LUCE you want to make exception after exception for developers.  How about having the developers get together and build a monorail with THEIR money.  That would be an enhancement.  Not just a few  flowers that are supposed to make up for strangulation traffic and for builidngs that dwarf existing buildings and block the sun.   The people of Santa Monica have stated over and over that they do not want New York City canyons of buildings.

Another problem with tall buildings is that it damages the privacy of existing buildings.  Many complaints have been registered with the City of Los Angeles because business people can look down into the backyards of residences.

We all hope the economy will pick up.  However, there are For Lease signs all over Santa Monica.  How much more commercial space do we need?   The amount of commercial space vs. affordable housing is too far off the scale already.

Believing that the light rail is going to take care of all of this is absurd.  It is just an excuse and more Hollywood accounting to justify the developers’ assault on our city.

If the council members have tunnel vision for $$$$$$$, they are not worthy representatives of the people of Santa Monica.  Council members have to think of more than just $$$$$$$$.  The livability of a city MUST be given priority.

The comment that came out of the last Planning Commission meeting was:  The only good thing that may come out of this plan is that it will finally piss off the people of Santa Monica so much that their opinion of the council members will show in the November election.  If that’s too complicated for you, that means you will be voted out of office.  Enough is enough.

Have some integrity.  Be actual representatives of the will of the peopl

Do not allow oversized, superfluous buildings that require exceptions to the building regulations.

Jeanne Laurie

Sunset Park

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To the Editor

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February 13, 2010

Dear Councilmembers,

I’m writing this only on my own behalf, not any organization.

As you consider your decision on appointing someone to fill the vacant Council seat, I hope you will think seriously about Ted Winterer.

I first met Ted when he was president of the Ocean Park Association and got to know him better when OPA organized the annual Main Street 4th of July Parade. I’ve also communicated with him in his role as a Recreation and Parks Commissioner, in his role as a Planning Commissioner, and in his role on the SMMUSD Emergency/Temporary Parcel Tax Feasibility Committee.

I’ve enjoyed these interactions because I’ve found Ted to be someone who’s more knowledgeable than I am about many topics related to city government, someone who’s good at analyzing various aspects of issues,  someone who does his homework and works hard, someone who responds to constituents when he’s in a position of authority, someone who knows how to lighten a tense situation with a bit of humor when it’s needed, and someone who cares about the many issues that residents tell me they are concerned about, such as:

Transportation management, land use, public safety, education, parks and open space, preserving our neighborhood’s character, quality of life in general, and a growing interest in sustainable practices.

For these reasons, I hope you will consider Ted for the vacancy on the City Council created by

the passing of Mayor Ken Genser.

Sincerely,

Zina Josephs

(40-year resident of Santa Monica)

Red Cross Gives Hand To Local Fire Victims .

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The American Red Cross of Santa Monica went to the aid of  victims of an apartment building fire, in response to a Fire Department call-out Friday afternoon.

The fire started in a carport at the rear of the 24-unit building in the 200 block of Washington Avenue.  Tenants told a Red Cross worker that four to six apartments above the carports were damaged by the fire. Three cars  in the carports were completely destroyed. All the units suffered d smoke damage. The origin of the fire is under investigation.

All utilities — gas, electric and water — were shut off, and the two-story structure was “yellow tagged” by the Santa Monica Building and Safety staff,    meaning the building is  unsuitable for habitation and tenants could only enter it on an  emergency basis.

Eight families who were made homeless temporarily homeless were placed in local motels for the weekend or until other arrangements could be made for more permanent housing.   Some of the fire victims are staying with  family or friends, or made other arrangements.

The Santa Monica Red Cross will also provide additional services on an “as needed” basis to the fire victims.

Coordinating Kids and Cars f

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At John Adams Middle School, “A period” starts at 7:30, and the regular school day begins at 8:19 a.m.

Approximately 140 students use the 20th and Pearl crosswalks each day.

Santa Monica College enrollment was approximately 37,000 in the fall of 2009.

The SMC’s spring semester begins today.

The board of directos of Friends of Sunset Park, the neighborhood’s organization,. expressed concern for the   safety of the school children on the eve of the new semester.

In emails to SMPD, SMC and Big Blur Bus officials, FOSP asked that efforts be eoordinated to ensure the safety of school children and college students.

Excessive traffic has been a problem in  Sunset Park for some time.

Airport Air Quality Examined

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The Santa Monica Airport Commission will hold its

annual Environmental Workshop on Monday, February 22, at 7:30 P.M. in City Council Chambers in City Hall.

Presentations by Dr. Rod Merl, Airport Administrator, City of Santa Monica, on issues related to aviation air quality and the regulatory environment affecting aviation and airports will be featured

·

Professor Susanne Paulson, Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and The Institute of the Environment, Aerosol Atmospheric Chemistry Group, UCLA, will discuss the recently completed UCLA study entitled “Aircraft Emission Impacts in a Neighborhood Adjacent to a General Aviation Airport in Southern California.”

Dr. Philip Fine, Atmospheric Measurements Manager, South Coast Air Quality Management District, will speak about the SCAQMD’s draft report entitled “General Aviation Air Quality Study Conducted at Santa Monica and Van Nuys Airports.”

Dr. Arnold Den, Senior Toxicologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,will focus on the recently completed US EPA study entitled ”Development and Evaluation of an Air Quality Modeling Approach for Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft Operating on Leaded Aviation Gasoline.”