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.