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.