Santa Monica needs a second political party.
News media rarely call for new political parties – at least not overtly. We’re taking the unusual step, because Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) has been the only political game in town for nearly three decades, and in that time residents have been gradually reduced to bit players in the civic drama, and we find that profoundly disturbing.
Sunday, we posted a screed that we ran in the Dispatch a year ago (see “Déjà Vu All Over Again,” below).
“We’re BAAACK” called for a number of changes, almost all of which had to do wth the restoration of the democratic process in Santa Monica.
Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.” Unfortunately, in the year since we wrote the piece, none of these vital changes has been made, and EVERYTHING is gaining on residents — traffic, over-development, bad decisions, and wrong moves, and, most of all, City Hall’s drive to remake Santa Monica along more conventional, profitable and docile lines.
Last year, residents lost every round to City Hall. Currently, Treesavers, who number well over 5,000, are fighting City Hall to prevent it from removing trees from downtown streets, and the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City has just filed petitions signed by over 10,000 residents to place an initiative on the November ballot that would limit new commercial development to 75.000 square feet a year.
But even if the trees are saved and commercial growth is limited, City Hall will continue to rule Santa Monica unless residents have an opportunity to elect representatives who will actually represent them, and that can only happen if SMRR’s extended hegemony is challenged by a slate of bright independent candidates who are willing and able to represent residents and tame City Hall.
Our realization that it will take a slate to dislodge SMRR was the e eureka moment. the moment the Beach Party was born.
Yes. the Beach Party! Here. Now. It’s perfectly apt. Beach towns naturally spawn and attract smart, spirited, contrary people — precisely the sort of people we need to represent us on the School Board as well as the Council.
Besides, the beach is the primary fact of Santa Monica, the shaping element, but, in the 1980s, the City began to refer to it as “a visitor-serving facility” when in fact it’s many residents’ primary reason for being here, which suggests that the beach itself needs advocates.
It’s not that we dislike SMRR. SMRR members are among our most valuable and devoted citizens. But SMRR holds the patent on winning Santa Monica elections, in large part because it’s had little coherent opposition over the years. As a result, the current SMRR Council members –Richard Bloom, Ken Genser, Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor – have collectively spent nearly 50 years at the dais. As a result, they have a vested interest in the status quo.
By definition , the status quo is insufficient and unacceptable. What we need is a good Beach Party.