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 "November 2010"

Political Incest in Santa Monica

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Richard Tahvildaran is a professor of political science at Santa Monica College. He is also co-chair, with Patricia Hoffman, of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR).
During the recent political campaign, about 80 of his 300 Political Science 1 students distributed SMRR campaign materials, which, according to local attorney Stanley Epstein, constitutes a conflict of interest and breach of professional ethics. Read More →


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Last Wednesday night, the Planning Commission approved the Santa Monica Conservancy’s application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and variance to allow it to relocate the landmark Shotgun House to the parking lot across from the Ocean Park Library, and operate it as a Preservation Resource Center for the community.

The CUP is the first major step in a series of reviews required before the project can move forward. The Landmarks Commission, the Architectural Review Board, and the California Coastal Commission must also approve the project at public hearings expected early next year.

The Conservancy signed a 20-year renewable lease for the Shotgun House with the City of Santa Monica in January. Its rehabilitation as a Preservation Resource Center will serve as a model of adaptive reuse and will provide a base from which we can offer expanded educational programming as well as one-on-one support and technical assistance with historic preservation questions.

If you would like to help with the rehabilitation of the Shotgun House and the creation of the Preservation Resource Center, please send a check to the Santa Monica Conservancy, P.O. Box 653, Santa Monica, CA 90406.

To volunteer, contact the Conservancy by email at or leave a message at 310-496-3146.

Santa Monica: Lost Cause

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City Hall has revived its “Buy Local Santa Monica” campaign, which features a website (, Facebook and Twitter pages, newspaper ads, community events, and “discount days.”
The City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment, Housing and Economic Development, the City Manager’s Office, City TV, the Chamber of Commerce, the Bayside, Pico, Main and Montana business improvement districts, the Pier Restoration Corporation, Sustainable Works, Santa Monica Jaycees, and the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau are all involved in the campaign. But it isn’t “generating enough sales,” according to City officials.

Of course it isn’t, because there’s very little “local” locally. The City has spent millions of dollars creating and promoting downtown Santa Monica in general and the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place in particular, and, in the doing, has overseen the wholesale exodus of unique local shops and basic services to make way for the ubiquitous chain stores that can be found in the Westside Pavilion, Century City, the Grove and other places where parking is not a nightmare.
There once were nearly a dozen independent bookstores on and near Third Street. The City imported Barnes and Noble and Borders, because it knows nothing about the book business, and now all the independent bookstores — except Arcana and Hennessey and Ingalls — are gone — along with Borders.
The City’s merchandising touch is so lethal that it managed to kill two legendary bookstores — Midnight Special, which literally strangled on City red tape, and Dutton’s, which couldn’t abide in the crass commercial climate that enveloped the area.

Just as the City labored to turn downtown Santa Monica into a “regional commercial hub” and perpetual traffic jam, it ignored the basic needs, particular charms and local focus of Main Street, Montana and Pico. Most of the galleries. boutiques. stores, services,cafes and restaurants on those streets were owned and operated by residents and were of a piece with Santa Monica. They were here because we needed them to be here. A great many of them are gone now, owing to the City’s capitulation to commercial landlords.
All the local independent stationary stores are gone, but Staples is here. Call a plumber or electrician and these days he’s more apt to come from Beverly Hills than Santa Monica. But the Wherehouse and Blockbusters are gone, and Vidiots is still here, no thanks to the City’s mercantile wizards, who once charged it with violating the sign code because it featured painted scenes from films on its windows.
Those same wizards vetoed the only chain store residents have ever wanted — Target.
Never mind. We may not have a Target, but we have a Tiffany’s.
Now, having dramatically cut local business, the City has tuned up its loony BUY LOCAL campaign and simultaneously adopted a “transaction and use” tax, which will hit some of our oldest and best businesses hard.
Barrett’s Appliances has been in business for 64 years. It’s a Santa Monica
institution. It sells great appliances. Its service is impeccable. There’s a Barrett art gallery at Santa Monica College. The new tax will add enough to the cost of a dishwasher or refrigerator at Barrett’s to encourage naive shoppers to go out of town in search of “bargains.”

Winterer Narrows Holbrook Lead to 42

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The County Registrar added 365 votes to Bob Holbrook’s tally and 366 to Ted Winterer’s on Monday, giving Winterer a net gain of one vote, leaving him 42 votes behind. Holbrook is seeking a sixth term on the Santa Monica City Council, Winterer a first term.

Information regarding remaining votes to count is still unavailable to the public, but Winterer’s camp believes new totals will be released Friday.  The county must complete the count by the end
Of the month.


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By Ty Wapato

On November 2, Santa Monica got the best City Council money can buy. The disgrace is that it was big development money that bought it with dirty election tricks. This installment illuminates the connection between the recent election and the City Council decision to deny an appeal to reverse a Planning Commission decision allowing Trammel Crow to move forward with the 301 Ocean Avenue development without an Environmental Impact Report to safeguard the interests of Santa Monica citizens. First, take a close look at how the current council won their seats.

Read More →


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The campaign mailers that attracted the most attention during the recent contest were not only bogus,  they were notable as much for what they didn’t say as for what they did say — and they backfired. Their “target,” incumbent Councilman Kevin McKeown, got more votes than any of  the other Council candidates.
The mailers stated that the City’s police officers and firefighters, paramedics, School District teachers,  the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), the Sierra Club, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR),  and  the L.A. League of  Conservation Voters all endorsed some or all of  four candidates: Gleam Davis, Bob Holbrook, Pam O’Connor and Terry O’Day. They all endorsed McKeown, too, but he was not mentioned.

The mailers were produced by  “Santa Monicans for Quality Government” (SMQG), which allegedly was financed by “developers,” but a note on the mailers says “Appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidate and measure,” so it’s likely that Holbrook, Davis, O’Connor and O’Day were aware that the mailer was bogus and that their colleague was going to be excised, the victim of a dirty trick.    Read More →

An Earlier Landmark Fiasco Recalled

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The City Council’s rejection of 301 Ocean Avenue as a landmark is reminiscent of another
bad Council call.
In February, 2004, the owner of Christie Court, garden apartments at 125 Pacific Avenue, applied for a demolition permit. As the apartments were over 40 years old, the proposed demolition had to be reviewed by the Landmarks Commission.
Christie Court tenants only learned of their landlord’s plans to destroy their apartments  when a Landmarks commissioner  visited the site.

Tenants (who paid between $683 and $1175 a month) attended the Commission meeting, asked for and were granted a continuation so they could  prepare a presentation. Their research posited that Christie Court was architecturally and historically significant and thus qualified for designation as a City landmark  and should be preserved, not demolished. The Commission  agreed. Read More →


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Santa Monica City Council summarily rejected the appeal by a group of neighborhood citizens on Tuesday night that would have required Texas developer Trammel Crow to obtain an Environmental Impact Report before beginning risky excavation at 301 Ocean Avenue, barely 100 feet from the decaying bluffs adjoining Palisades Park. That decision is the latest action by city officials in this controversial development project that will have dire consequences for the majority of Santa Monica citizens. Many believe that if this project is completed, it will signal the end of the Santa Monica lifestyle that we now enjoy.

Read More →

Reconstructing Democracy

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Thirteen times in the last 30 years, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) has won a majority of seats on the City Council.

The leading members of the first wave — Ruth Goldway, Dolores Press, Jim Conn, Ken Edwards and David Finkel — were classic American radicals, meaning they were dedicated to the Bill of Rights and the American promise of justice and equality for all. If that classic radical spirit had prevailed, Santa Monica might not be as bruised, battered and beset as it is today.
Read More →


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By Ava Tramer

Clear and warm
Highs: Lows: 48-53

Hot and clear
Highs: 69-77; Lows: 42-48

Sunny and hot
Highs: 74-80; Lows: 53-56

And Santa Monica…
INT. NEWS ROOM, evening broadcast
ELIZABETH ANCHOR:  Thank you, Patti.  Well, we certainly hope those puppies learn to do the Charleston, too!
JOHNNY MOOTH: (chuckling)  How adorable.
ELIZABETH ANCHOR:  Now, for the weather – what will this week hold in store?  Sunny Skyes?
SUNNY SKYES: Thank you, Elizabeth.  Hey, did I ever tell you about how I taught my darling Chihuahua to do the Twist?
JOHNNY MOOTH: No one cares, Sunny.
SUNNY SKYES: (sighing)  Good evening, folks.  This week holds lots of sun and moderate temperatures.  Back to you, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH ANCHOR:  What?  That’s it?
JOHNNY MOOTH:  Show us a map or something.
SUNNY SKYES:  Fine.  (gesturing to map)  If you look at this map, you’ll see lots of sun icons all over the southland.  Back to you, Elizabeth.
JOHNNY MOOTH: Boooooorrrrriiiiiinnnnnggggggg.
SUNNY SKYES: I’m not going to just lie and make things up.  I’m not going to invent some tornado or snow storm or something stupid like that.  I have integrity.  (coughing)  Unlike you.
JOHNNY MOOTH:  And this just in!  Breaking news:  A tornado is heading to Southern California!
ELIZABETH ANCHOR:  How will this affect your morning commute?  More after the break.