The Unmaking of Santa Monica Proceeds

The newest member of the Santa Monica City Council, Gleam Davis,
was appointed about a month ago to replace  the late Herb Katz.
Council member Bobby Shriver has just begun his second four-year term.

In contrast, the other five members —  Ken Genser, Bob Holbrook, Pam O’Connor, Richard Bloom and Kevin McKeown —  have spent a  total of 77 years on the Council. Yet, with the notable exception of Holbrook, they seem to know nothing about Santa Monica, or its residents.

When elected officials know  nothing about the people they are supposed to represent or the place they allegedly oversee, there’s bound to be trouble, as was demonstrated at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

During a discussion of City Hall’s latest dingbat proposal, several Council members boasted, as they are  wont to do,  that they were  making a “world class city,”  and the proposal would accelerate the transformation.

Actually, they are not making a “world class city,” they are making a mess. In any case, neither I nor anyone I know who isn’t on the City payroll wants Santa Monica to be a “world class city.”  We want it to be what it is –  a great old  beach town  that is gorgeously located on the  storied  Southern California coast.

But City Hall isn’t listening. It’s too busy making its “world class city.”
Clearly, City Hall planners and consultants and their Council acolytes see  Santa Monica as a movie set that they can rearrange or derange at will.

The planners have never had more willing and ardent co-conspirators than Bloom, Genser, McKeown and O’Connor, The City Charter calls for  citizen politicians serving part-time for token pay to represent the residents. But Bloom,  Genser, McKeown and O’Connor have  made Santa Monica their profession.

Really? Yes. Imagine  McKeown NOT riding his bike to more meetings than there are. Or Genser NOT reading the fine print and peppering staff with abstruse questions, but almost always ignoring the whole.  Or  Bloom and O’Connor NOT involving themselves in regional quasi-official  organizations.

Only a die-hard Panglossian would see this as good news —  proof of the quartet’s devotion to Santa Monica and its residents and its   willingness to go the proverbial extra mile on our behalf.

In fact,  they have a vested interest in what happens here. Never mind  the state of the town, or the well-being of the residents. Their egos are on the line. Further, they reserve their primary allegiance not for the town or its residents, but for City Staff  and the ubiquitous, and very expensive, consultants, who  write all their material.

Judging by the projects and policies the four have approved, despite their years on the dais, they know as little about planning and design as they know about  Santa Monica and its residents.

The principal subject at Tuesday’s  night’s  Council meeting was an inter-departmental proposal that the Civic Center, Santa Monica High School, the Light Rail’s proposed western terminus, the new Bloomingdale’s, the Santa Monica Pier,  Palisades Park and the freeway be combined in a world class municipal mosh pit at the heart of this world class city.

Their timing is bizarre. City Hall has spent four years and untold millions of dollars on the state- mandated revision of the land use and circulation elements of the General   Plan (LUCE). When it is finished and approved, it will  serve as  a sort of blueprint for the next 20 years.  But it remains unfinished, and is deeply, perhaps fatally flawed.

Surely, the mosh pit, which has been  on City Hall computers for months, should have been folded into the LUCE and presented as a part of the whole.

But, for reasons of its own, City Hall chose to lead with the mosh pit and Bloom, Genser, McKeown and O’Connor chose to wave it on, and so the unmaking of Santa Monica proceeds.

3 thoughts on “The Unmaking of Santa Monica Proceeds”

  1. When ever I read an article, I am lookinbg for soemthing that I did not know before i read the piece, I am sorry to say, that knew instinctively much about what you have written here, sad to say?
    How ever Pangossian?
    Now there was a nugget! Thanks for the addition to my vocabulary.

    Thesaurus: Panglossian


    Expecting a favorable outcome or dwelling on hopeful aspects: optimistic, roseate, rose-colored, rosy, sanguine. Informal upbeat. Idioms: looking on the bright side, looking through rose-colored glasses. See hope/despair.

  2. Where is SMCLC? Where is the Democratic Club? Where are the neighborhood organizations? Where are the recall petitions? What the H**L are we going to do?

    What we need is a “Citizen’s Action Plan” and a posse of citizens to activate it!!

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