World Class Is Insufficient

Say the magic words in City Council  Chambers and almost everyone goes instantly gaga.

For some time, the magic words have been “world-class.”

The phrase is pure hype, ubiquitous,  meaningless, but it’s the Council’s mantra and it was endlessly invoked at  last week’s Council meeting.

The subject was the possibility of  locating a proposed Broad Museum in Santa Monica’s Civic Center.

Apparently, Eli and Edythe Broad have also approached Beverly Hills and at least one other city, in addition to Santa Monica.

The staff report on Broads’ “conceptual proposal” to establish a public museum was riddled with “world class” thises, thats mad the others.

The  mood in the chamber was downright euphoric, as speaker after speaker—artists, educators and business people — all raved  rhapsodically about the prospect of a “world class” museum in our midst, the  Broad Foundations’ “world class” collection of contemporary art, the unnamed “world class” architect who would design the “world  class” structure that would house the art, and so on.  Council members continued and embroidered on the “world class” theme.

It was a veritable orgy of wishful thinking.

Council member Bobby Shriver asked a series of reasonable questions that seemed to irritate his colleagues, perhaps  because he was unwilling to accept the wholesale and instant assumption of “world class.” He also noted that the City’s  participation, as limned by the Broads,  was substantial.

The Broad Foundations would own the museum and its contents in perpetuity. An endowment would be set up to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the museum.

For its part, the City would be  expected to accelerate the permit, review, Environmental Impact Report, and other requisite documents and pay for them, pay a nominal portion of the construction costs – perhaps $1 million, pay for and maintain the landscaping of the museum premises, provide parking for the museum patrons and staff, “possibly” buy the building on Barnard  Way that currently houses the foundation for

$7 million, and award a very long lease at a very nominal rate on about  two and a half acres of land  that’s worth “hundreds of millions of dollars,” in Shriver’s words.”

Shriver’s suggestion that, given the size and scope of the proposal, the Council appoint two members to serve with City Manager Ewell on negotiations was rebuffed.

But, given the size and scope of the

proposal, the City had better find some means of accurately assessing  the value –intrinsic as well as extrinsic  — of the Broads’ collection.

“World class” just won’t do it.

Monsters at the Gates

If you can read the letter below from the Friends of  Sunset Park to the L.A.  Planning Commission without at least wondering why there are so many  planners and so few good plans,  check your  pulse.

The proposed “Bundy Village and Medical Park,” described below, would plant 1.1 million square feet of stuff, including over 3,300 parking spaces, on  our eastern border.

This is not good news for us or anyone  in West L.A.. Intermittent gridlock – in the Bundy/ Olympic intersection and adjacent streets, the 10 and 405 freeways, and Santa Monica in general  and Sunset  Park in particular – is virtually assured.

City Hall estimates that Santa Monica’s permanent population of about  87,000 soars to 300,000 every week day, and 500,000 on weekends.

A while ago, L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents West L.A., chastized Santa Monica for Mar Vista’s traffic woes. It’s rumored that Rosendahl now supports the mega-development, but we haven’t  been able to confirm the rumor.

Still, his swipe at our multiplying traffic was spot on, and echoed Santa Monia residents’ rising complaints about spreading  congestion in Santa Monica.

Just as many Santa Monica residents have consistently opposed  such City Hall mega-projects as the luxe office district,  our neighbors from  the  Palisades and Brentwood to Venice have opposed the aggressive development policies of  L.A. City Hall.

It’s a wide screen, Technicolor, 3-D   Capra movie – the people versus their City Halls.

Everybody should oppose the “Bundy

Village and Medical Park ”— for the reasons cited in the Friends of  Sunset Park  letter.

And residents of  Santa Monica should review the revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General Plan (LUCE draft), which will be re-introduced at tomorrow night’s City  Council meeting, It will determine our destiny, and that of our  neighbors, for the next 20 years.

The 1984 plan triggered the commercial building boom that is the basis for most of our current problems. The new LUCE must not only soave the existing problems, but  restore the strong sense of place that has been fractured in recent years and is so vital to this beach town’s well-being.

At the moment, it  does neither, and r never will  — unless residents weigh in. Emphatically.

Whither… Thanksgiving

By Ava Tramer

Beaches

Clear and sunny

Highs: 70-73; Lows: 50-52

Inland

Sunny

Highs: 77-81; Lows: 40-43

Deserts

Warm and clear

Highs: 77-81; Lows: 50-52

And Santa Monica…

As Thanksgiving approaches, let us get something clear.  You should not be thankful that you live in California (see current failure of state government).  Also, the weather in Northern California is not always something to be thankful for.  So should you be thankful that you live in Southern California?  Well, no – it may be sunny and warm during the day if you go to inland Socal, but at night, it can get too cold with temperatures in the 30s.  Then what should you be thankful for?  I think the answer is clear.  You should be thankful that you live in Santa Monica.  Yes, the weather may be boring (and I think I have a right to complain about this repetitive boringness more than most), but as we learned from the tale of Goldilcoks, sometimes it’s important that things are just right.

To: L.A. City Planning Commission

From:  Friends of Sunset Park

RE: Bundy Village, Case No. VTT-66732-CN-DB-GB

November 17, 2009

As residents of Sunset Park, the Santa Monica neighborhood bounded by

Pico Blvd. on the north, Centinela Avenue on the east, the south city limit, and Lincoln Blvd. on the west, we strongly oppose the proposal to rezone property northwest of Olympic Blvd. and Bundy in West Los Angeles for the development of the Bundy Village and Medical Park.

The project would include:

å385,000 sq feet of medical space or a hospital (1,857 parking spaces),

20,000 sq ft of retail/commercial space (682 parking spaces), and

385 residential units (737 parking spaces), for a total of 1.3 million sq ft and 3,276 parking spaces. The veloper

estimates that this would increase the average number of daily car trips by 20,073. For those of you who have ever driven through the intersection

of Olympic and Bundy during rush hour, you can imagine the effect of an

additional 20,000 cars on the already severely congested flow of traffic.

In March 2009, the City of Los Angeles, in an effort to reduce existing

congestion on Olympic Blvd., issued the “Initial Study for the Olympic West-Pico East Initiative” to improve traffic flow on Olympicand Pico by providing “continuous peak period curb lanes on both sides of Olympic and Pico on weekdays through (1) re-striping of existing roadways

(without widening), (2) replacement and installation of peak period parking restriction signage, and (3) signal timing modifications of existing

traffic signals to favor travel on westbound Olympic and eastbound Pico.”

In June 2009, the Santa Monica Planning Department sent “Comments on DEIR for Bundy Village and Medical Park Project” to L.A. City Planners, stating that “The City of Santa Monica is deeply concerned about the impacts of this project on Santa Monica streets.”

It found that 15 intersections in Santa Monica would besignificantly impacted, including:

Centinela Avenue I-10 freeway on- and off-ramps Colorado Avenue at Stewart St.

Ocean Park Blvd. at Centinela and 23rd

Olympic Blvd. at Centinela, Stewart, Cloverfield, and 20th

Pico Blvd. at Centinela, 1-10 EB off-ramp (34th St.), Cloverfield, 23rd, & Lincoln

Santa Monica Blvd. at Cloverfield

The city’s comments also included complaints about the methodologies

used and about proposed mitigations that would have a negative impact

on Santa Monica residents.

Pico Blvd. and Ocean Park Blvd. are the only east-west arterials in our

neighborhood, and they are already heavily congested during rush hour

due to commuter traffic to and from:

Santa Monica College on Pico Blvd.,

Santa Monica Business Park on Ocean Park Blvd.,

St. John’s Medical Center on Santa Monica Blvd.,

Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center on 15th St., and

the Special Office District on Olympic Blvd. and Colorado Avenue

With UCLA Medical Center in Westwood only a few miles away, and

two major medical centers in Santa Monica, we don’t see the need for

yet another medical center at Bundy and Olympic.

And, we do not wish to suffer the negative traffic impacts in

our neighborhood from such a huge 1.3 million sq ft development.

Respectfully,

Board of Directors

Friends of Sunset Park

city-recognized neighborhood organization

P.O. Box 5823

Santa Monica, CA 90409

www.FriendsofSunsetPark.org

From West L.A. to Middle East

Washington, DC — Mary Singaus, a public health nurse who lives s in Mar Vista, recently returned from a unique journey to Israel and Palestine. Singaus, along with 31 other people from the U.S. and Canada, landed in Tel Aviv on October 28 for the two-week trip through the conflict zone, during which they heard both sides of  the story of the conflict  directly from Palestinians and Israelis.

They also discussed the role of the U.S. government in resolving  to the conflict.  The delegation examined Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on President Obama’s plan to halt illegal Israeli settlement construction and restart stalled peace talks.  Despite positive rhetoric from the administration, U.S. military aid to the region continues to flow unabated and conditions on the ground continue to worsen.

The delegation also focused on the Palestinian olive harvest that  takes place each autumn. It’s an occasion of profound cultural and economic importance for Palestinian communities and a time when tensions between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank run high.

Sponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB), this delegation was the 32nd since 2001. More than 500 North Americans have made the trip.

Singaus has dedicated much of her life to encouraging global peace and justice, volunteering with Arlington West – a local project of Veterans for Peace-Los Angeles – and participating as an active member of the St. Anne’s Parish

People who would like to hear more,  about Singaus’s trip may call her at 310.502.9067 or dsrt2ocean@verizon.net.