Jeff Tumlin was the City’s principal traffic consultant
for seven years, during which he made over $1 million
for his firm, though traffic, congestion and gridlock
got measurably worse.
City manager Rod Gould announced Tumlin’s dismissal
yesterday, but added that the City would continue to
work with his firm.
Tumlin was not dismissed because on his seven-year watch
our streets got more congested than ever, though surely
he should have been. In fact, the Tumlin tumult was
triggered by the discovery that he characterized Santa
Monica residents as longtime growth-averse NIMBYS on
his website, adding that we had got over it and now had
a more balanced view of growth and development, and
implying that he was responsible for our conversion.
In fact, we are not now and never were NIMBYS (Not
In My Back Yard).NIOTS (Not In Our Town) perhaps –
as 9 million square feet of new commercial mega-
developments were jammed into this built out beach
town in a couple of decades, over our continuing
objections. The difference is enormous.
NIMBY is not simply an insult. It suggests, among
other things,that we are bigots.There are undoubtedly
some bigots among us, but the majority of us are
primarily concerned about the preservation of the
unique character of this gloriously idiosyncratic
beach town – which, suffice it to say, Tumlin never
The discovery of Tumlin’s website insult led to a
letter signed by over 600 residents to the City
Council, demanding his dismissal.The Council can
only hire and fire the City Manager, City Attorney
and City Clerk. The City Manager has dominion over
all the other City employees, and, as noted, he
Tumlin’s most recent planning surprise surfaced a
couple of weeks ago when he claimed, after years of
fiddling with parking plans, that the best way to
reduce traffic was to provide fewer parking spaces.
The rationale: if people know they can’t park, they
won’t drive. Developers were crazy about the idea,
as it would dramatically reduce their costs. Residents
weren’t, as it would radically increase congestion.
And so Mr. Tumlin has left the building.
One other thing. The City should stop hiring planners
from SanFrancisco, which is as different from the Los
Angeles metropolis as it could be. Los Angeles has
a gracious plenty of talented planners – including
Santa Monica’s own Thom Mayne, a Pritzker Prize winner,
which is to architecture what the Nobel Prize is in
a dozen fields. It’s time to give the homeboys and
girls a shot.