SMC TO SCREEN A QUARTET OF FILM CLASSICS WRITTEN BY THE KANINS

This classic film series is sponsored by the SMC Associates (www.smc.edu/associates). All screenings are FREE
and will be held in Room 165 of the SMC Humanities & Social Science building, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Seating is on a first-arrival basis.

The series will screen four films that focus on work by the Kanin family’s husband and wife collaborative teams – Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, and Fay and Michael Kanin, who began their professional careers in the late 1930s, and worked continuously in Hollywood and on Broadway for the next 50 years. The Kanins won numerous Oscar and
Emmy Awards for their writing on feature films and TV dramas.

Fay Kanin lived in the Kamin family’s beach house until her death a few years ago.

Santa Monica College will screen a “Kanin Family Film Series,” May 15-17. SMC Film Studies professor Josh Kanin will introduce the films, and will join SMC Political Science professor Alan Buckley for an audience discussion after each screening, offering unique insights into the life and works of the Kanin Family.

The lineup of films i: May 15 at 1:30 p.m. – “Adam’s Rib,” 1949, written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, directed by George Cukor, starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Judy Holliday. Exquisite. May 15 at 6 p.m. – “Teacher’s Pet,” 1958 romantic comedy, written by Fay and Michael Kanin, directed by George Seaton and starring Clark Gable, Doris Day, and Gig Young,
Not exquisite,

May 17 at 5:30 p.m. – “Friendly Fire,” the 1979 award-winning made-for-TV movie written by Fay Kanin, takes a
look at government corruption and war. Directed by David Greene and starring Carol Burnett, Ned Beatty, and
Sam W aterston, the film tells the lies a family encounters when it tries they try to find out how their son died in Vietnam.

For additional information, please call (310) 434-4588 or (310) 434-4510.

JONI MITCHELL’S WEBSITE REFUTES TMZ COMA STORY

By Kevin Roderick LA OBSERVED story

TMZ caused quite a social media stir by reporting today that Joni Mitchell has slipped into a coma at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The site used coma in its story headline, citing a court document filed by a friend seeking conservatorship that appears to refer only to Mitchell being “unconscious and unable to make any responses.”

In any case, the singer-songwriter’s website posted its first health update since April 3, denying the TMZ report.
“Contrary to rumors circulating on the Internet today, Joni is not in a coma. Joni is still in the hospital – but she comprehends, she’s alert, and she has her full senses. A full recovery is expected. The document obtained by a certain media outlet simply gives her longtime friend Leslie Morris the authority – in the absence of 24-hour doctor care – to make care decisions for Joni once she leaves the hospital. As we all know, Joni is a strong-willed woman and is nowhere near giving up the fight. Please continue to keep Joni in your thoughts.”

COUNCIL TO HAVE DEFINITIVE LOOK AT ZONING CODE REVISION NEXT WEEK

Two weeks ago, during an extended study session on the proposed Zoning Code revision, the City Council spent a lot of time discussing the proposed Tier 3 development.

Council members Terry O’Day, Pam O’Connor and Gleam Davis vehemently defended the inclusion of Tier 3. In the previous Council, the three of them, and Bob Holbrook, who did not run for re-election, constituted a majority of four. Each of the four took campaign contributions from developers and returned the favor by approving their projects.

Some months ago, the Santa Monica Transparency Group filed 31 complaints, alleging O’Connor, then the mayor, had accepted illegal campaign contributions. Subsequently, O’Day allegedly founded a PAC, funded it with developers’ money and headlined a mailer for O’Connor and Frank Gruber “Responsible Leadership for A Better Santa Monica.” It got more laughs than votes. Gruber lost. O’Connor ran 2,000 votes behind incumbent Kevin McKeown and newcomer Sue Himmelrich. The new majority of four consisted of McKeown. Himmelrich, and Council members.Tony Vazquez and Ted Winterer. None of them takes developer money. The new minority of three consisted of O’Day, O’Connor and Davis. Davis, like the O’s, took money from developers.

The Planning Commission, which literally spent years revising the Zoning Code, came late to approval of Tier 3, which the Planning staff liked, but most residents opposed. Now Davis pushed for Tier 3 — 55 feet tall, first floors commercial and upper floors residential.

O’Connor enlarged on Davis’s thesis that the state’s cancellation of its redevelopment agencies made it impossible for the City to finance affordable housing without the so-called community benefits that derive from market rate residential projects.

Engaging in bizarre wishful thinking, O’Connor said, “I guess you could say, I’m only for affordable housing and to heck with anybody who has some success in life, who wants to live in Santa Monica, who came home after they went away to college, and happened to get a good education, so they’re not living at the level that they would qualify for, but we don’t want to build housing for them. We don’t them to live here,” O’Connor said.
Opposing the elimination of Tier 3 development on the mixed-used boulevards, she dubbed the code “the rich get richer zoning code.”

She concluded melodramatically, “You can beat your chest and say I’m for affordable housing,” she said, “but you’re not going to see much of it built.” 


Davis seconded the notion. “If we limit this to affordable housing we will never get affordable housing for seniors who are on retirement,” she said. “We will never get affordable housing built for people who are on disability. The only way we’re going to get those kinds of units is if we make them inclusionary and put those type of requirements in a Tier 3 type of development where we can do some type of negotiation.

“If we want to transform Wilshire, and maybe we don’t, that’s another thing we should be honest about: We like Wilshire the way it is. Chase bank building, car wash, the occasional restaurant, one story, no housing, that’s fine. But let’s be honest about it because unless you start to build some density along the boulevards you’re not going to transform the boulevards,” she said.

Davis then indulged in a little word play, saying the city suffers from “affluenza.”

“We have a lot of rich people here,” she said. “What I see, then, is we’re going to have 100 percent affordable housing and then we’re going to have everybody else. We are going to be the epitome of what is wrong in this country, which is we’re going to have people who can live in subsidized housing and rich people and we’re not going to have a middle class.”

“I think we have it right now,” Vazquez said. “Santa Monica will have a wide gap between the rich and the poor. “All the housing we have now is for the rich.”

Apparently, neither O’Connor nor Davis saw any connection between the campaign contributions they took from developers and the current housing imbalance. But a great many residents and McKeown, Vazquez, Winterer and Himmelrich do.

The Council has yet to make any definitive decisions. On May 6, it will hold what will ostensibly be the definitive meeting. Or not. The majority of four have the last word now.

ONE IN 68 CHILDREN IN U.S. IS AFFECTED BY AUTISM

Autism Speaks works to make life better for every person touched by this public health crisis, but we can’t
do it alone.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Our goal is to raise $68,000 from grassroots supporters before the month ends.

Please help us get there by making a tax-deductible donation today — and if you’re able to give $68 or more, we’ll send you a t-shirt as a thank you.

With your help, we can continue funding new, ground-breaking research efforts like MSSNG — our historic partnership with Google to sequence 10,000 genomes.

We’ll also keep advocating in Washington and state capitols around the country for better policies to help families with autism, and spread the word through our Walks and Light It Up Blue awareness campaign.

Help us come through for them by donating today — give $68 or more to get a t-shirt as a token of our appreciation.

Thanks for making this Autism Awareness Month so special.

MAKING AFFORDABLE HOUSING…AFFORDABLE

Santa Monica residents are being squeezed by two related realities: 1) increasing property values affordable only to a small minority, and 2) a lack of low-cost housing caused by the City’s notorious housing/job imbalance. This imbalance has been created by four decades of policies that have incentivized commercial over residential construction. Concurrent with the commercial space boom, there has been a rush to create housing for the well-to- do at the expense of affordable housing. There are currently over 3,000 new market rate units in the pipeline. These units will not be affordable for the average resident for three reasons: 1) new construction will always be more expensive than adaptive reuse; 2) the demand for beachfront housing, and the ability of the wealthy to pay market rates, is unlimited; and 3) land values and construction costs in our already dense city will continue to escalate because no amount of new housing will result in lower home prices or rents. Even when we deed restrict a small fraction of those units to qualified low-income residents, the affordable portion is too small to impact prices in such a competitive marketplace. In other words, we cannot build our way to affordability.

If you believe, as we do, that housing for a wide range of incomes is a worthwhile goal, the only way to create affordable housing is with subsidies. The question then becomes what kind of subsidy, how big, and for whom? The current City Council is struggling to create affordable housing with the new zoning code. The only tool they have devised is giving projects with affordable units extra floor(s) and/or height. This should not be the only incentive because of the potential, unintended consequences. In our already dense City, new construction often entails the demolition of existing buildings and sometimes even affordable housing. This leads to more traffic because housing is mostly being built concurrent with new commercial development. The result is more office space and a failure to right the job/housing imbalance. In many cases, those extra floors will seriously impact their residential neighbors’ sunlight, air, and views.

A far better solution would be if the new planning code incentivized the conversion of existing office buildings to mixed use with residential uses on the upper floors and commercial uses below. This would have several advantages: It’s the fastest, greenest and least disruptive way to create housing. You can take a typical, existing office space add bathrooms, a kitchen and some operable windows and “voila” you have a new unit. These conversions could be done as tenant improvements in a fraction of the time it takes to build a new building. Office buildings are usually designed to facilitate the reorganization of their spaces so this transition is usually not difficult.

It does not generate more parking or traffic demand. Most commercial buildings, particularly recent ones, have more parking per square foot than is required for the equivalent square footage for residential uses. Those that used to drive to work or shop there would be replaced by a fewer residents who would live there.

The largest traffic change would be the partial reversal of today’s traffic flow. Instead of the majority of commuters arriving in the morning and leaving the City at night, more would be leaving in the morning and returning at night thereby balancing our traffic overload.

Local businesses would benefit from increased foot traffic from these new residents who would likely spend more locally than commuters.

Because our commercial buildings are more often near to or on the boulevards, the “new” housing would be more likely to have the transit infrastructure already in place.

The quality of these converted spaces could be as luxurious or as spare as the owners wanted. Simple, open plans would cost less to build and be akin to the hip, simple artist lofts attractive to today’s young tenants and buyers.

Since the buildings are already here, all we need to convert them to housing is a suitable financial incentive for the owners to make the conversion. In the past, commercial rents per square foot were priced very differently than residential rents, but they have since crept up to be within 25 percent of commercial rents. This is where subsidies might be needed to close the gap. The new Zoning code should have a number of subsidies and incentives to encourage these conversions. For example: Allow the conversions “by right” as tenant improvements (i.e. no Conditional Use Permits etc. required); Waive any additional parking requirements if no new square feet were added. If the new parking mix was below that required under the current code, the owner could “save” the extra parking for future tenants; While unbundled parking is generally not desirable, this is one case where it might be possible if each new loft had at least one dedicated space. The current requirement for open, common areas, balconies and patios might be waived if the commercial buildings did not have the available space; Finally, and most importantly, we need the code to provide financial subsidies to close the rental gap between residential and commercial uses. This can include waived permit fees as done for Historical buildings, waived or reduced property taxes as done for the Mills Act projects, waived business taxes, unit taxes, tax credit syndications, waived meter fees and any package of other cost reductions to incentivize the conversions.

Currently, the rents from low-income housing only cover about a third or quarter of the actual costs to produce that housing. So we are already subsidizing 2/3s or 3/4 of the cost of low income housing at substantial public expense. Converting business square footage to residential uses is a good way to close the gap for mid-range housing with a significantly lower subsidy. If the City desires the full range of affordable housing, it needs to put more skin in the game using incentives and subsidies built into the new Zoning Code.

By Mario Fonda Bonardi AIA for SMa.r.t.

Ron Goldman FAIA, Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Mario Fonda Bonardi AIA, Daniel Jansenson Architect, Samuel Tolkin AIA, Armen Melkonians Civil & Environmental Engineer, Phil Brock Chair, Parks & Recreation Commission. For previous articles, see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

ShareThis