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 "October 2011"

SUSTAINING RESIDENTS IS CITY’S FIRST TASK

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

The Tuesday, November 1, City Council meeting will be devoted entirely to a study session on “Santa Monica Business Districts and the Local Economy.”

Given the events that took place at the Village Trailer Park Monday morning (see RESIDENTS RALLY TO DEFEND VILLAGE TRAILER PARK below), we hope that the staff and the Council will devote some attention to the unavoidable and sometimes sharp conflicts between business interests and residents’ needs, the ways in which a vigorous local economy, if not scrupulously and thoughtfully managed, can threaten residents’ ways of life and well-being, and the steps that must be taken to preserve the town’s character and its quality of life in the midst of a long-running commercial development boom.

A portion of the session will be devoted to a staff recommendation that “the City Council review, comment on… and direct staff to proceed with implementation of the Strategy for a Sustainable Local Economy.”

Any discussion of a “sustainable local economy” must include a variety of means to sustain both residents and the community itself. 30 years ago, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights put the nation’s most stringent rent control ordinance on the ballot and voters approved it. Rent control and affordable housing were and
are integral elements in maintaining this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town – in spirit and fact. But over time, state laws have weakened rent control and more and more rental housing has been demolished and replaced by so-called luxury condos, leading to the diminution of our rental housing stock.

The residents of the Village Trailer Park, which epitomizes affordable housing, got caught in the commercial boom that has spread inexorably east from 20th Street toward the L.A. border and south into the Pico Neighborhood and turned the whole area into a mammoth traffic jam.

The owners of the land now want to build a mammoth mixed use commercial complex on it. For reasons it has never explained, the City has never taken steps years ago to protect and preserve the trailer park, and so it was that the bulldozers arrived Monday morning, in violation of the DEIR, and residents gathered and
called on the City to stop them.

It was a Capra movie – with the good guys triumphing. But it isn’t over, and won’t be until any discussion of a “sustainable local economy” begins with the needs, desires and dreams of residents.

RESIDENTS RALLY TO DEFEND VILLAGE TRAILER PARK

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Dear Friends and Members of Mid-City Neighbors,

Early this morning, Marc Luzzatto had a Golden West Demolitions crew come to Village Trailer Park to demolish 10 trailers–in violation of the Draft EIR, which states that “no trailers are proposed to be demolished” (p. 168). Fortunately, David Lathem, a resident of VTP, had called me early Saturday morning to ask for help. He sent me the notice he received last Thursday, announcing that the demolition was scheduled for Monday. I called our own Board Liaison Member Catherine Baxter for advice. Soon an email was sent to various City Council Members and Planning Director David Martin and another to the leaders of the various neighborhood associations to alert them to the situation. Kevin McKeown contacted the city attorneys and Rod Gould, our City Manager, questioning the legality of this proposed action. Meanwhile, some neighborhood leaders contacted members of the Landmarks Commission, which had unanimously decided to consider giving Village Trailer Park landmark status, and others contacted the press.

As the demolition team examined trailer B-1, set to be their first victim, Zina Josephs of the Friends of Sunset Park arrived with signs for a protest. Residents of the park came out of their trailers and gathered by the entrance. Soon Ashley Archibald of the Santa Monica Daily Press rode in on her bike, followed later by video teams from KTLA Channel 5 News and KNBC Channel 4 News drove their vans onto the lot. Residents had plenty to say about Luzzatto and living under the constant threat of having to leave their homes at Village Trailer Park. They also talked about how good it was to be part of a community of people who looked after each other and how much they wanted to preserve this wonderful setting they were in at the sunset of their lives.

The demolition team scurried when the cameras came. Interviews proceeded throughout the morning. Jennifer Bjorklund will give her report tonight on NBC4 News. Jim Nash will give his report on the KTLA News. .

After leaving the park, we discovered that the city issued a temporary Stop Work order this morning. Kevin McKeown will request, tomorrow, that his fellow members of the City Council accept an emergency item to “direct staff to explore means whereby the City can best protect the safety of Village Trailer Park residents and of the existing affordable housing, and assure that all of the City’s own options with respect to various ongoing processes are preserved.”

We ask that you contact City Council Members by phone or email, , or come in person to ask them to put this on the agenda and vote to follow due process by supporting this motion.

Remember: It takes a village to save a Village Trailer Park.

Thanks to all of you for being involved,

Gregg Heacock
President of Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors

MONA SIMPSON’S EULOGY FOR STEVE JOBS

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.
We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter. I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.
I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.
Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.
He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.
His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.
Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.
When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.
They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.
For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.
By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.
None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple. Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were:
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University. She lives in Santa Monica.

From the New York Times

Management To Demolish Trailers in Village Trailer Park

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

By Zina Josephs

Residents at Village Trailer Park (VTP) have been notified that management will begin demolishing 10 trailers on Monday, October 31st.

My understanding is that this demolition should not be occurring at this time due to: A) the Draft EIR process, B) current Planning Department research into the historic significance of VTP, and C) state mobile home residency laws.

Is there anything the City of Santa Monica can do to delay this demolition?

*******************************************************************************************************

A) The comment period for the Village Trailer Park Draft EIR lasts until November 28th, and my understanding is that the property owner is not allowed to make changes to the property during the comment period.

http://www01.smgov.net/planning/planningcomm/environmentalreports.html

“In accordance with CEQA, a Draft EIR with Appendices for the project has been prepared and is now available for a 45-day public review period. Comments may be submitted, in writing, by 5:30 p.m. on November 28, 2011.Contact Planner, Jing Yeo, Special Projects Manager.”

B) At its October 10th meeting, after discussion, the Landmarks Commission voted unanimously to direct Planning staff to research the historic significance of Village Trailer Park.

http://www01.smgov.net/planning/landmark/agendas/2011/lca10102011.htm

Agenda Item 11-C. “Discussion on the potential historic significance of the Village Trailer Park located at 2930 Colorado Avenue. (NF)”

During public comment on that October 10th agenda item, one of the VTP owners, Marc Luzzatto stated that the Village Trailer Park had been built for tourists and had never been intended for permanent residents.
He also stated that the trailer park utilities all need to be upgraded.

Following his comment, Village Trailer Park resident Catherine Eldridge spoke and handed out copies of telephone book pages from the 1950’s (from the Santa Monica Public Library archives) that included dozens of private telephone numbers listed for permanent residents at Village Trailer Park. She also stated that all of the utilities had been upgraded 5 to 6 years ago, with the exception of the sewer system, which management was told didn’t need replacing as long as they flushed the system monthly.

C) One of the trailers scheduled to be demolished (I believe it’s A-23), is currently in probate and is therefore not owned by Marc Luzzatto. It was originally owned by a woman who died. Her son, who inherited the trailer, subsequently died, leaving the trailer to his son (the grandson of the original owner). While the grandson was out of town on a job assignment, the trailer park management apparently declared the trailer abandoned, removed some of the grandson’s belongings, and according to VTP residents, seem to have used an ax to make a hole in the roof.

According to California Mobilehome Residency Law, when a trailer/unit owner dies, a relative has the right to move into the trailer or sell it. It seems that Marc Luzzatto — http://www.luzzattocompany.com/ — may have told relatives of deceased trailer owners that they have to move the trailers, and it costs relatives tens of thousands of dollars to challenge him in court, money which they may not have.

Other residents say that when the management hires tree trimmers, the workers sometimes walk on top of the trailers with spiked shoes, which creates holes in the roofs. Sometimes during tree trimming, heavy branches are allowed to fall on the roofs of the trailers, which can create damage that cannot be repaired.
When that happens, if the trailer owner leaves the park, the VTP owner only has to pay the trailer owner the “scrap” value of the trailer, rather than the true value.

http://www.hcd.ca.gov/codes/mp/2011MRL.pdf

“Violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law, like provisions of conventional landlord-tenant law, are enforced by the courts; that is, the disputing parties must enforce the MRL against one another in a court of law. The State Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) does not have authority to enforce these Civil Code provisions.

“For example…., a homeowner in a park, not the state, must sue the park in court to enforce a notice or other MRL requirement, or obtain an injunction, if the management will not otherwise abide by the MRL.”

**********************************************************************************************************

The reason that 9 of the 10 trailers are empty seems to be that the VTP owners and management have managed to persuade some residents to leave, including the man who ended up living in his car and dying of exposure.

It’s really disgraceful that a city which brags about its commitment to affordable housing and protecting neighborhoods is allowing the destruction of the Village Trailer Park neighborhood to take place.

Is there a way for the City of Santa Monica to delay to demolition of these trailers, especially the one that’s in probate?

.

WHO’S PLANNING THE PLANNING PROCESS

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The City Planning Department is currently planning: (1) the proposed EXPO Light rail line — its maintenance yard, the route through the city, three stations, the areas adjacent to the stations and the “gateway to Santa Monica” at the end of the line; (2) the construction of over two million square feet of new commercial projects in the Bergamont station area; (3) major additions to the Civic Center – the mega-housing project that is called “The Village” and combines $2 milllion “luxury condos” with affordable housing units and some retail, the $47 million six-acre “Palisades Garden Walk” park, the adjacent $25 million “Town Square” in front of City Hall, the $45 million rehab of the Civic Auditorium; (4) the next “new downtown,” which includes a mammoth parking structure on Second Street, a new AMC movie complex that replaces a parking structure but has no parking of its own, “something exciting” at Fifth and Arizona, a massive remake and expansion of the historic Miramar hotel, the reduction of the grand old office building at Seventh and Wilshire to a hotel, with a wholly undistinguished addition; and (5) the replacement of the California Incline. Etcetera!

On being named Deputy Mayor for Special Projects, Kate Vernez said she was thrilled to play a role in ”this unprecedented era of civic improvements.”

We’re more wary than thrilled. The number and size of the projects is “unprecedented,” but there’s virtually no evidence to date that these projects – singly or as a group – will “improve” this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town.

At the beginning of the LUCE process, residents’ surveys and questionnaires indicated that we wanted to restore and repair the small scale beach town, which had been fractured by a two-decade commercial development binge. .

City Hall disagreed, and spent seven years revising the land use and circulation elements of the General Plan (LUCE). Literally at the last minute, architects Gwynne Pugh and Hank Koning, who were then members of the Planning Commission, but have since resigned owing to possible conflicts of interest, persuaded the Council to increase mandated height and mass limits for commercial buildings – thus blowing seven years’ work on a very controversial question in ten minutes.

That was more than a year ago.

Since then, the Planners refer frequently to the LUCE when presenting a new project, but the zoning code, the official, working version of the often lofty LUCE, has yet to be written. Earlier this week, we were told that it wouldn’t be ready until sometime next year, June perhaps, which, by the City clock, probably means December, 2012, or some time in 2013,

The City has been awarded a federal grant to do a Bergamot area plan, which would show us where all the proposed new buildings are slated to go and what their impacts – as a whole and individually — on the area and the adjacent residential neighborhoods would be. Obviously, the plan should precede the approval of any of the projects, but the planners apparently disagree. Construction of the very large Agensys building on Stewart, south of Olympic, is already underway, and the Lionsgate HQ, at Colorado and Stewart, has been approved.

When residents ask about the state of the area plan, as they are wont to do, the planners tend to change the subject. By now, it seems to be a point of honor that they neither talk about, nor acknowledge that the area plan should precede individual project approvals.

Residents have asked repeatedly that the Bergamot area plan be given top priority, but the requests has been ignored, as have critiques of individual projects. Five of the seven Council members — Mayor Richard Bloom, Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, Bob Holbrook, Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor — have taken campaign contributions from developers, and they stopped pretending to listen to residents’ ideas or demands some time ago.

There are more planners than ever, and they all have impressive, if incomprehensible titles, but apparently no one is in charge of planning the planning process, much less establishing priorities.

It’s as if a tornado were gathering size and speed and heading this way, and the professionals are too busy creating lovely power-point presentations to notice the rising commotion.

If you don’t believe it, check out the comments of residents of Santa Monica Canyon and Pacific Palisades on the draft-EIR for the California Incline reconstruction, which we’ve posted.

.

Palisades Comments: Incline Reconstruction Draft EIR

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

October 28, 2011

City of Santa Monica, Public Works Department
Civil Engineering Division
1437 4th Street, Suite 300
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Re California Incline Bridge Replacement Project Re-circulated Draft EIR/EA
The Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) has been the voice of the Palisades community for over 38 years. The Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Blvd. are literally our lifelines. Anything which hinders traffic flow on these arteries is of great concern because we are an isolated community and all too often must depend on far-flung resources to respond to major traffic accidents as well as fires and other emergencies. We know from experience that disruptions on PCH often bring Sunset Blvd. through the Palisades to a complete stand-still.

With this in mind, we have reviewed the reference EIR/EA and found it worrisome. A primary concern is the Traffic Management Plan (TMP). Table 4-1 refers to the “Traffic Management Plan found in Chapter 2, Section 2.1.7.” The “TMP” is both detailed and vague, leaving many facets to be worked out in the future and no signage to deter discretionary commuter traffic from areas such as Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. This “Z” traffic now uses cross-mountain roads to travel to PCH from Highway 101. During the recent closure of one lane of PCH near Temescal Canyon Road, signage in these distant locales greatly reduced coastal traffic. We expect no less for the Incline project. These signs should be installed in the weeks leading up to construction as the first day will set the tone for the duration.

The TMP boundary obviously is too small. It fails to include the area along PCH from Entrada Drive to Sunset Blvd. as well as Sunset to Allenford. Traffic counts have been ignored or are out-of date. We request that the TMP be updated to include this expanded area which undoubtedly will be severely impacted by the Incline closure. TMP should seriously consider turning 7th Street from Wilshire to the I-10 on-ramp into a one-way street to provide a useful alternative to motorists who need to access the westbound Coast Highway. The revised TMP should be vetted with the community, including PPCC, prior to approval of the EIR/EA.
We believe the Moomat Ahiko improvements will be helpful but inadequate to handle diverted Incline traffic. We strongly recommend that Appian Way be opened from the Pier to Pico Blvd. for the duration of the project. This suggestion, made by several people in 2007, has not been treated seriously in the reference draft. In addition, the “coned-off” exit from the 1550 Parking Lot must be closed temporarily and relocated to reduce traffic turbulence around the McClure Tunnel.
The traffic signal at PCH and Annenberg already causes a back up of traffic on PCH. We would like to recommend that this signal be deactivated during constructions period.
A key step in reducing the impact on the greater community would be for Incline reconstruction to proceed 24/7 to assure the most rapid completion of this project. While the EIR mentions this as an option, we urge that Santa Monica adopt this expedited policy to assure the public that work will be expedited. In furtherance of this time saving goal, we urge Santa Monica to provide substantial early completion incentive bonuses to contractors and, to the extent possible, use pre-cast materials.

Finally, we recommend that Santa Monica partner with the City of Los Angeles to develop rapid response teams to deal with traffic snarls and other emergencies near the boundaries of the two cities.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the reference Draft EIR/EA,

Janet Turner, Chair
Pacific Palisades Community Council
310-573-0382

NO DICE, A Santa Monica Murder Mystery, by Mar Preston

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Last section posted on 9/22

Chapter 11, second section

Rafi called Ginger out of the blue. “I’ve got something for you.”

“Tell.”

She slapped a row of staples in the machine and kept on assembling sets of handouts for the precinct walkers. She had to do something physical to get her mind off things.

“I’ve got somebody in Lawrence’s firm talking to me.”

“How do you do this?” She went to her desk and sat down, hunched over the phone,
eager for some good news.

“Just my natural charm. I can’t understand why it doesn’t work on you.”

“Oh Rafi, I’m sorry.”

“Ah, there’s women, Ginger, there’s always women. Ramon tells me you’re hot for the cop.”

”He lies. I want to hear about Lawrence.”

“You know Jimmy’s big time into Scientology?”

“I’ve heard that. Strange.”

“You better believe it. They must keep the celebrities away from the bad stuff.”

“Does Tom Cruise have a brain in his head? You’d have to think so.”

“Anyway, Jimmy paid his money and did his courses and starts to believing he’s a
Clear.”

“That’s the advanced stage where you counsel people?”

“You got it. Tom Lawrence’s wife, Sandy, died about five years ago, you remember? He did the law part of the business, but Sandy did the rainmaking, kept the clients happy, did the church thing and community stuff. Tom and Sandy took an interest in Jimmy. A lotta people like Jimmy. Anyways, Sandy’s death hit Tom real hard, real hard, and he started going downhill. Jimmy got in there, pitching himself and Scientology.”

“He’s a charmer. I’ve watched him.” A sex drive was not something to be wished for. Until she’d learned he was on the opposite side of the fence, she’d actually fancied him, something she would have to be on the rack to admit to anybody now.

“So they started taking runs together after work. Now I don’t want to sound too
sympathetic to Tom.”

“He’s as cold-hearted as a snake on a chilly day.”

“Now, Ginger, even bastards have feelings.”

“But who cares?”

“Yeah, exactly. So Jimmy gets Tom signed up for these courses in Scientology, and soon
Tom’s leaning on the other two partners, and Jimmy’s given a partnership which means he has a lot more say in the business. Man, the other partners hate him now. This is when the firm makes the all-out grab for the casino development business.”

“And?”

“Tom starts feeling better and suddenly he and Jimmy are running with the big dog gaming people. And he’s thinking Jimmy and Scientology is the reason for all this good stuff.”

“You think he and Forsythe are tied in together?”

“Sure. Forsythe’s an independent, like all these PR companies representing the casinos.
Even Willie Brown’s got a PR gig representing the casinos.”

The stapler ran out and Ginger shook out a row of staples from the box. She looked at him hard. “That’s all background. You’re going to tell me something indictable, aren’t you, Rafi?”

“Ah, indictable, Ginger. Now we’re dealing with lawyers here.”

Mason kept pestering his guy in the FBI Organized Crime section. Had anybody heard
anything further about some phantom assassin hit on Dyson? He got the callback on his cell while he was walking past the Firing Range to his car in the motor pool.

“Nothing fresh for you, buddy,” his FBI liaison said. Jimmy wasn’t known to have any current links with his brother. Far as they knew, Jimmy was clean. Or careful. There was a whisper of a juvie record but that was sealed tight.

Mason held the phone tight to his ear. Israeli weapons salesmen were in there with the Range Master and he could hardly hear over the fire of automatic weapons. He intended to pull the brother’s rap sheet one more time and go over the Known Associates file himself.

People missed things. See if he could link anything to Jimmy. Or Forsythe.

Anything.

His theory was that Baker had turned up something he thought would derail the planned casino, something worth getting him killed. Everything pointed to the pro-casino boys.

Too much information was coming at him, coming at him too fast, unexpected, twisting him round and round. All from different directions. Everything demanding instant action. He thought of a doper he’d been chasing once when he was working patrol, barely out of the Academy. The guy had skidded into the beach parking lot and stupidly got out of his car, and started broken-field, panicky running for the Pier. Dopers were stupid, especially the long-term marijuana smokers. Mason chased him, ploughing through joggers on the Bikeway, runners, people on bikes, mothers with strollers, lovers arm in arm. Mason heard the sirens and the backup units behind him and saw the Bike Patrol guys angling in.

The doper ran right for them, through the shadows angling off the pier above him, crowds lining the edge watching the action, the doper thinking he was safe once he reached the dark recess under the Pier.

He ran straight smack dab, hard as he could into one of the pilings, gave himself a concussion that made him even more stupid, so focused he didn’t even see the real danger coming at him.

Feeling good, Mason put a spring in his step and made a Groucho face at Jen as he passed the front desk in the Records section.

“Aren’t you in a good mood today,” she said, dropping one shoulder and tilting her head with a big smile.

Mason grinned back, tapped an imaginary cigar and took the stairs three at a time. He didn’t know why he was feeling so good. Maybe something good was going to happen. Ginger McNair was coming in to sign the statement about the graffiti on her door. She arrived wearing jeans, a black linen jacket, and white tailored shirt. Her perfume made his nose lift in appreciation. He took her up to the Robbery-Homicide Bay on the third floor. It was somebody’s birthday and there was a cake on the counter. He cut both of them a slice and poured her coffee when she sat down and started filling in the forms.

“They ever let you off the leash here? You got a life outside this place?” Ginger asked as she read over the statement.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Like what? What do you do?”

Mason thought fast. “Uh, well, I play hockey, spend some time with the diversion program here, high risk kids. You know, the thing with kids from at risk homes and …”

“Hockey? That’s interesting. I know what you mean about the kids. That’s good work, Mason.”

“What do you do outside your job?” he said quickly.

“Not much time during a campaign. What a world, huh?”

“You ought to come see the team play. We’re not bad.”

“I might do that sometime.”

Mason watched her mouth as she ate the cake, the way her shirt tightened over her breasts. The vertical groove above her upper lip was cut deeply in a way that made him want to lick it.

Looking up after a minute, Ginger asked, “I’m sorry about your dog. How did your little
girl take it?’

Mason’s set down his fork. “It’s hard for all of us. We had Buddy since he was a puppy.”

Ginger reached over and patted his hand. She didn’t say anything. Mason mashed a piece of cake onto his fork and took a quick bite, looking over her shoulder to make sure they were alone.

“So the divorce is going through then, huh?”

“Just got the papers.”

Ginger smiled. “Walking wounded.”

“No,” he lied. “I’m okay. It’s best for both of us.”

“Sure.” She said it without irony. Delgado came in and said hello to Ginger just as she and Mason had begun a more teasing kind of banter. Mason caught Delgado’s look of surprise.

He realized he actually seemed to be trying out some moves on Ginger McNair.

Wozinski sat at his desk facing away from the rest of the team, poised over his mouse pad, gazing into a spreadsheet. At the desk next to Mason’s, Delgado was muttering in low-voiced argument in Spanish. Hermanos was said over and over. Delgado looked pinched and furious. Fredericks had just disappeared into the bathroom down the hall. The woman was constantly in the bathroom. Mason hoped to God she wasn’t pregnant. She was too good to lose.

“Let’s go into the Task Force room so we can spread out a bit,” Mason suggested. He flung the flack jacket he’d been carrying onto a hook by the door.

“Okay, what have we got?” Mason said to the assembled team.

“The Woz is working this bad deed idea. See where that leads. You all heard about the tag on McNair’s door? We’ve got surveillance on Lawrence and Edwards. Forsythe.”

“Yeah, and the budget’s killing us. How long can we keep it up?” Delgado groused,
slapping a ruler down on the desk.

“What about finding the guy seen walking down the alley just after Dyson’s murder, the one who’d exchanged the time of day with the dishwasher standing outside?”

Spilliger answered, “Nothing yet, sir.”

“Edwards speak Spanish?”

“Mr. Country Club?” Delgado said with surprise. “Nobody ever mentioned he spoke Spanish in the interviews.”

“He wasn’t born to the country club. He just started acting like he was.”

“I’ll find out if you like, sir,” Fredericks said. She was back and spoke up.

“Do it roundabout though.”

“We know Wally’s been swimming below the scum line,” Spilliger said.

“But it’s nothing we can take to the prosecutor,” Mason agreed. “They gave Wally shares of their investment at bargain basement prices. He paid something for it. You can’t call that a bribe.” He pounded his fist in his hand, pacing the squad room.

“I’m going to make sure this gets leaked to The Lookout,” Delgado vowed. Delgado took city corruption hard. “Bastard’s going to lose his seat next round.”

“That’s a conspiracy then, Lawrence and Gladwin? Isn’t it?” Spilliger said uncertainly.

“You try proving conspiracy!” Mason said. “I hate these financial cases. They only come along once in awhile and the DA hates bringing them to trial because they’re expensive and juries get bogged down in the details. You won’t be popular over there, or with the City Attorney either. He hates this stuff. He just wants to do the easy slip and falls.”

“Baker and Dyson are linked over this.”

“Gotta be.” There was a round of agreement on this. But how?

“The guy’s clever and cold as ice. You have to get right in there with a knife. Not like a
gun.”

“Clever or desperate. The guy who did this—and I can’t see this being a woman’s crime—has to have an appetite for the blood. And man, he thinks he’s smart.”

“Sick, twisted fuck.”

Mason had read up on this stuff. “There’s sociopaths everywhere. We just think they’re sick and have some brain chemistry imbalance here in the west. They don’t think like that in places like Rwanda, Cambodia. Darfur, for instance. They know it’s just plain evil that’s been waiting for an excuse to happen. People who’d been normal yesterday suddenly discover they can do this and nobody catches them. They find out they like it and turn monster overnight.”

“He’s a malicious, sadistic fuck, sick or not,” Delgado said, tossing a grease-stained paper bag in the trash and missing. Mason watched him as he got up cursing and dropped the bag in, continuing out the door.

“Here you got guys on Wall Street making the mega, mega bucks and a lot of them are sociopaths,” he continued, though nobody seemed to be listening. “That’s how you can fire two hundred people on Christmas Eve. It’s a big game to them. Power. Thrill of the hunt. He’s got a taste of the power and control now and I’ll bet he likes it. It’s what he’s always deserved.”


To be continued

NO DICE AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

CALIFORNIA INCLINE RECONSTRUCTION: COMMENTS

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Mark Cuneo. P.E.
City of Santa Monica, Civil Engineering
1437 4th Street – Suite 300
Santa Monica, CA 90401
California Incline Reconstruction EIR/EA (“Project”) Public Comment

Dear Mr. Cuneo,
The Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association is one of the oldest community-based organizations in the state. We were incorporated in 1946 and succeeded the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. Part of our mission is to represent our community’s interests before government agencies.

We have been following the progress of the Project for over five years. The Project has been a matter of great interest to our community. Of course, we are dismayed that throughout this time city representatives have advocated using Santa Monica Canyon streets for “alternate routes” during the construction period. Our canyon should be the “last resort,” for rerouted traffic.

The Traffic Management Plan (TMP) is either complete or a work in progress according to conflicting statements in the EIR/EA. We believe it is the latter and urge the city to revise and complete the TMP with robust community participation before the EIR/EA is certified. Traffic counts must be current and the Plan/study area expanded to include Santa Monica Canyon and the coastline areas up to Sunset Blvd. as we requested over four years ago.

Our detailed comments are attached. We look forward to working with the city to facilitate completion of this important infrastructure project as rapidly as possible.

Sincerely yours,
George Wolfberg, President

California Incline Bullet Points

1. ACTION ITEMS.
• Work around-the-clock. Pursue construction on a 24/7 basis to get the project completed ASAP. The EIR/ES only hints at this. A commitment is needed now. • Signage on Highway 101. Reduce incoming traffic, especially “Z” traffic, by posting signs on Highway 101 to discourage cross-mountain trips to Hwy 1. Since the first day of closure will set the tone for motorists, these signs should be up and working at least
one-week prior to closure. This procedure was highly effective during the recent closure of one lane of PCH for the Coastal Interceptor Relief Sewer project between Temescal Canyon Road and Chautauqua Blvd.
• Moomat Ahiko / Ocean Ave. intersection reconfiguration. The consultants have done an outstanding job redesigning the configuration of this key intersection. However, the bus stop blocking the right turn to Colorado needs to be moved out of the intersection.
• Open Appian Way to Pico for duration of project to siphon traffic away from Moomat Ahiko and McClure tunnel. This was requested in 2007 at the workshop and is totally ignored in the EIR/EA.
• Gridlock near pier. Temporarily seal off and relocate the 1550 Pier parking lot exit to PCH. This will eliminate highway turbulence and gridlock from exiting vehicles. Existing traffic diverting cones
should be removed.
• Expanded Traffic Surveillance. Traffic impacts on Santa Monica Canyon are identified. Unfortunately, there are no mitigation measures for the Canyon. Despite our specific request, the Canyon was not included in the Traffic Management Plan (TMP) area. This must be corrected. We believe the TMP should include partnering with and linking to Caltrans highway video monitoring system to maintain 24-hour traffic surveillance and post messages on routes 101 and 10. These measures must be expanded to include 7th and San Vicente, Ocean Ave and Entrada, Mesa and West Channel Road. The revised TMP must be developed with robust community participation and include specific measures for the Canyon. We are
fearful of the current “trust us,” approach. Possible impact on Sunset Blvd. also should be evaluated. The EIR/EA should not move forward without this commitment.
• On-site traffic assistance. Assign traffic officers as needed to ease Canyon congestion. Contract/partner with LADOT as necessary to facilitate traffic in Santa Monica Canyon.
• Redirect traffic flow away from Santa Monica Canyon. Discourage Westerly traffic on Ocean Ave. between California and San Vicente. Metro is doing an outstanding job with rapid response detour signs for the 405 project and Santa Monica should follow this precedent. Encourage use of 7th Street / Lincoln Blvd. ramp to PCH through all possible means including signage and temporarily converting 7th Street from Wilshire to the Westbound on-ramp to one way. Aggressive measures are needed to encourage motorists going to Malibu to use the I-10 on-ramp to PCH.
• Provide opportunity for SM Canyon residents to exit their neighborhoods. Stencil “KEEP CLEAR,” on Entrada Drive at Kingman Ave., San Lorenzo St., Stassi Lane, and Amalfi Drive. Also, for the duration, install a “No Left Turn 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM; Mon.-Fri.” sign at Ocean Ave. Ext. and Mabery Road.

2. EIR/EA ISSUES.
• Missing, out-of-date, traffic counts. As mentioned above, the EIR/EA failed to respond to our suggestion that the traffic study area be expanded to include Santa Monica Canyon, which obviously will be negatively impacted by Incline closure. In addition there are no traffic counts for important Santa Monica Canyon intersections— this is EIR-malpractice. Other counts are years out of date. All need to be brought up to current and measured against the “tentative” conclusions.
• Bicycle Facility on Incline. The document includes a diagram of the finished roadway. The widened roadway includes a bicycle/pedestrian facility that extends from about 50-feet below Ocean Ave. to the pedestrian bridges that cross above the Incline and PCH. We have shared this design with knowledgeable bicycle advocates who have expressed serious concern about the ability of this plan to function in the real world. Prior to moving forward with the environmental document, it is strongly recommended that the
city convene a workshop/study session to review this plan in detail with members of the bicycling community and experts from Caltrans.
• Parking Restrictions on Adelaide Drive/4th Street. Santa Monica Canyon residents could use stairways to walk home instead of fighting gridlock. We have experienced on several occasions Canyon traffic queuing to 14th and San Vicente and 7th to South of Montana during fires and accidents on the 405 freeway. Canyon residents should be permitted to apply for parking permits for the duration of the project to make this option feasible.
• Population vs. Employment disconnect. The document’s 25-year population/jobs projections fail to recognize the impact of current significant housing efforts. This does not bode well for solving the “reverse” commute which has severely degraded the quality of life of the entire West side. e.g., the Purple Line stops at the VA and cannot be expected to reduce automobile trips to Santa Monica. Even more discouraging, this failure and the lack of current traffic counts reduce public confidence in the entire
document.

MOVEON REPORTING FROM OAKLAND

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

Last night, Scott Olsen, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, was struck in the head by a “nonlethal” projectile fired by the Oakland police. The round fractured his skull, leaving him in critical condition.

Olsen had joined with other members of Occupy Oakland to peacefully protest the group’s eviction that morning. When a group gathered to help Olsen after he was hit, a police officer threw a flash bang grenade into the group from a few feet away.

Deeply disturbing video of the incident was captured by a local news crew and provides the clearest evidence yet of the lengths that authorities will go to to stop Occupy protesters from voicing uncomfortable truths about our economy.

Yesterday’s eviction in the predawn hours, and last night’s violence against protesters, are only the latest attempts to silence the voices of those who are speaking up for the 99%. But members of Occupy Oakland, who faced the most brutal crackdown yet, refuse to be intimidated. They’ve called for another peaceful gathering tonight to stand up for their First Amendment rights.

To help defend their rights, we’re scrambling to put together a rapid response ad to run in Oakland urging the mayor and the police to end their brutal tactics and respect the protesters’ rights. We want to make sure everyone in Oakland sees the footage of the crackdown for themselves. Every dollar we raise will go to pay for the ad, and if there’s anything left over, we’ll donate it to a group doing good work helping our veterans as they come home from war.

We’re also supporting a petition by a local Oakland group—Causa Justa :: Just Cause—to Oakland’s mayor to stop the police repression of Occupy Oakland.

Many MoveOn members experienced the police crackdown firsthand last night. Here’s what some of them said:

The police were intimidating and I have been to many protests in my life, but nothing quite like this. I have never seen such a police presence with such force, especially for a calm crowd. The tear gas was pretty brutal, it is still on my clothes and skin this morning. Anywhere in downtown Oakland had the smell and sting of the gas all night. —Gina W.

We talked to the police across the barricades about how we were also fighting for them, for their children’s shot to education without lifelong debt, for the preservation of their collective bargaining rights. We expressed this solidarity knowing that they might not be listening, but we also know that the reasons for not listening are deeply personal… —Julie K.

As a retired military man, I wanted to reiterate what [I heard] the Marine Sgt espousing to the police: There is NO honor in brutalizing your own people. The tear gas stung but I have been exposed to worse, including Agent Orange. What I saw at Ogawa Plaza made me extremely proud of those brave souls that were passionate about their causes. As we say in the Marine Corp and Navy…BRAVO ZULU.—Pete H.

Thanks for all you do.

http://www.occupytogether.org/

THE FUTURE IN AMERICA

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

H.G. Wells, English socialist and author of over 100 books, including THE WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE TIME MACHINE, toured America in the first years of the 20th century and wrote a book about what he observed, THE FUTURE IN AMERICA.

It was published in 1906 and, in it, he concluded that America’s most significant accomplishment was to make feudalism efficient.

Today, 105 years later, feudalism continues to rule in America, but it’s no longer efficient.

Still, the very rich continue to prosper, as the New York Times reported today. In the last 30 years, according to the very independent Congressional Budget Office, the incomes of the poorest Americans rose 18 percent, middle class incomes rose 40 percent, and incomes of the richest 1 percent rose 275 percent.