Park Architect Chosen, Process Questioned

The City Council Chambers were again awash in superlatives The subject was the proposed six-acre City park, Palisades Garden Walk, at Oeean and  Colorado. Staff and some Council members instantly dub it\\\\ “our Central Park.” It is more  or less in the center of town, but there is  no basis for the link to America’s most celebrated park, which is vast and intricately made – one of those marvels that our forebears made that we can’t match — perhaps because they were making America, and we are unmaking it. The purpose of the session,  at the  April 13 Council meeting, was approval of James Comer’s  Field Operations as the park architect, and an initial payment of $3.2 million. Councilman Kevin McKeown said Comer was the 21st century Frederick Law Olmsted, the legendary architect of Central Park. That’s as silly as ranking our doily of a Park with Central Park. But Councilman Bobby Shriver brought his colleagues back to earth when he questioned the selection process. First, the City asked that architects submit  qualifications, not proposals. It then assembled a panel of “experts” to choose a “winner,” and, voila, Comer. Shriver was botnered by the fact that three people who don’t know Santa Monica have chosen the designer of our latest “centerpiece.” Other Council members and staff were clearly offended –  the  process is “common practice…standard…and it “works.” But it doesn’t. The City’s design record in the last several decades ranges from mediocre to awful. Shriver and Councilman Bob Holbrook voted not to approve the selection of Comer. Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, and Council members Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day and McKeown were all ayes. Richard Bloom was Absent. Comer got the job, but the debate over the selection process has just begun.

Whither…What

By Ava TramWr

Beaches

Mostly sunny with midweek showers

Highs: 61-70; Lows: 49-55

Inland

Warm and partly cloudy

Highs: 63-78; Lows: 43-52

Deserts

Mostly sunny

Highs: 68-88; Lows: 54-65

And Santa Monica…

I don’t want to jinx it, ladies and gentlemen, but it does look like the weather this week could be relatively exciting.  Don’t get too alarmed.  Yes, there will be plenty of boring, highly normal sun, and those standard fluffy clouds.  But it does look like around the middle of the week, there’s a small chance of showers.  I’m sure that me writing about this will probably jinx the whole thing and it won’t rain a drop, but on the off-chance that it does actually rain, I thought I should give you a warning.  So there!  We shall see what happens!

Whither…excitement

By Ava Tramer

Beaches

Clear and sunny

Highs: 62-76; Lows: 50-56

Inland

Mostly sunny and hot

Highs: 65-83; Lows: 44-50

Deserts

Hot and sunny

Highs: 76-89; Lows: 49-61

And Santa Monica…

It’s neck and neck, ladies and gentlemen, NECK AND NECK!  First the sun rises, and it’s warm out, and then again the sun rises and it’s warm out AGAIN.  Have you SEEN anything more exciting?  Have you SEEN anything closer?  IT IS WARM!  And now we’ve reached the middle of the week, and THE SUN IS BRIGHT!  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE SUN IS BRIGHT!  IT IS WARM!  And the weekend is approaching, and oh no the sun is SLOWING DOWN!  But wait, it pokes through the cloud and IT IS WARM AGAIN!  IT IS BRIGHT!  And the SUN WINS!  THE SUN WINS!  Well you’ve seen it here today, ladies and gentlemen, you have seen IT here today.*

*My apologies to those of you who realized that this was actually a highly dull, one-sided race, with only one contestant.  I was just doing my best to make the weather report a little bit exciting for everyone.  My apologies.

Whose Destiny Is It Anyway?

Santa Monica’s version of the state-mandated revision of cities’ land use and circulation elements of their General Plans (LUCE) Should have been complete and in place in 2004.

The state requires the revision at  20-year intervals so that residents can     naintain control of their towns’ destinies. But Santa Monica is so   sophisticated, so advanced that it turns its destiny over to “experts,”  r uber-consultants, specialists.

So far, it hasn’t gone well. The ‘84 “Destiny” plan led to  an explosion of

Commercial development. Its unintended consequences included

traffic nightmares and a rash of  oversized developments that fractured the townscape.

The 2004 revision is now six years behind schedule. Early on, residents called for scaling commercial development  down and back, a restoration of the beach town way of life, and a general  renunciation of the City’s aggressive economic policies.

In 1993, City Hall began referring

to itself  as  the City, and everything  else as the  city. We were allowed to ride in the car, but we were no longer  allowed to drive it.

In 2004, the City’s “experts” began “shaping” the city’s destiny.  They have been at it for six years. Along theWay, there have been  workshops, and several thick volumes. but there has not been a coherent plan.

This Wednesday, April 7, Lincoln Middle School will be  the site of the only  formal presentation of the draft LUCE To residents. It will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Later a series of Planning Commission and City Council hearings on the revision will be held, and the final  call will be made.

People who liked the mindless frenzy of the last two decades will love the  accelerated pace of the next two  decades, as limned in LUCE. Everyone else should speak now, or watch the City turn this iconic beach town into an obscene caricature of itself.

In this crucial instance, people who do nothing are as dangerous as people who do the wrong thing.