At last Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting, developers presented two proposed apartment projects located on Lincoln, across Colorado from each other (on the former sites of Norm’s and Denny’s). They’re too large – 90 to 100 apartments in each project, each project is too tall, too dense for its site and the area, and too large for Santa Monica.

Residents have spoken again and again about the need to maintain, preserve and extend our town’s unique beach front character and scale. They have said, repeatedly, emphatically and eloquently, that commercial projects  must be of a size, style and scale that are compatible with and complimentary to their specific locations and Santa Monica as a whole.

City officials and planners nod and smile, but they persist in proposing and promoting oversized and undistinguished projects all wrapped up in what they call “urban form.”

On April 24, 2007, in an  “interim City Council  ordinance  to modify the development review thresholds and declare the presence of an emergency,” staff wrote:  “Santa Monica is a small, extremely dense, older, coastal city consisting of just 8 square miles of land bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on three sides by the megalopolis of Los Angeles.”

City Ordinance: “Approximately 87,000 people live in the City, on weekdays there are about 300,000 present in the City, and on weekends and holidays the number of persons in the City soars to between 500,000 and 1 million….Santa Monica’s population density, eleven thousand two hundred persons per square mile, is the second highest among neighboring and nearby jurisdictions and is the densest among coastal communities in Los Angeles County.”

Dispatch: Eight square miles, a million people, 11,300 per square mile, the densest coastal community in L.A. county. A formula for a municipal mess.

City Ordinance: “Santa Monica has been fully built out for over 50 years, In the last 25 years, land values within the City have soared due, in large part, to the land’s scarcity and prime location, the excellent climate, and to the desirability of living and working in a community which offers a vast array of urban amenities and services, a unique sense of community, pedestrian-oriented scale, and economic and social diversity.”

Dispatch: Fully built out over 50 years ago? No wonder the traffic’s such a nightmare.

City Ordinance: “In recent years, ever-escalating land values, economic prosperity, and changes in state law have fueled a massive increase in development which has significantly altered the physical and social landscape of the City.”

Dispatch: Residents have said again and again that we don’t want and will not approve any significant alteration or diminution of the landscape of the city or its priceless beach town character.

City Ordinance: “Throughout this period of rapid development and change, the City Council has adopted a series of laws relating to land use and housing which were intended to strike and restrike the balance between potentially conflicting municipal values and policies in order to best protect the health, safety and welfare of Santa Monica residents.”

Dispatch: The building boom didn’t protect residents’ health, safety and welfare, it made major dents in our town.

City Ordinance: “During the last ten years, land use planning and regulation in Santa Monica has been driven by the ceaseless effort to balance the City’s commitment to maintaining economic and social diversity through the maintenance and production of housing for all economic segments of the community, with its commitment to protecting the environment, preserving the quietude of residential neighborhoods, and maintaining the experience of life on a human scale.”

Dispatch: Little or no effort has been made to restore the town’s “balance” that City Hall had knocked akimbo,

City Ordinance: “During that time period, the City Council has adopted a series of laws intended to foster the development of affordable housing and to concentrate housing development in the City’s commercial districts in order to both meet housing goals and preserve quality of life in established residential neighborhoods.”

Dispatch: Allegedly preserving the quality of life in the established residential neighborhood, while putting the affordable housing in the commercial districts has created  new problems.

City Ordinance: “Due to these efforts, between 1998 and 2005, 62% of new residential developments were constructed in the City’s commercial districts and 84% of the residential units with building permits issued as of December 2005 will be located in these districts…”

Dispatch: More of a bad thing cannot be seen as better, no matter how devious its presentation is.

City Ordinance:  “The City has also provided various incentives for the production of affordable housing, including height and density bonuses, and reduced parking and open space requirements.

Dispatch: Developers shouldn’t get rewards. Affordable housing tenants should get clean, efficient, comfortable housing.

City Ordinance: “A development review permit is intended to allow the construction of certain projects for which the design and siting could result in an adverse impact on the surrounding area such as development that is proposed to be built to a greater intensity and building height than is generally permitted in the area.”

Dispatch: Thus are residents of all stripes victims of bad planning, and the town is diminished.

City Ordinance: “For the most part, the City has been able to preserve residents’ quality of life and the environment, notwithstanding significant development in an already extremely dense environment; this has been accomplished by carefully crafting and adjusting the public review processes applicable to development within the City…These extremely large and dense projects greatly exceed historic development patterns in the City.  There are many additional sites in the City which are or could be available for similar large, dense projects.

“In public hearings on the LUCE update, residents have demanded that development be regulated strategically to perfect the policy balance between the need for new housing and the community’s insistence upon preserving quality of life and the environment.”

Dispatch: City Hall has not listened to residents, much less responded to their demands.

A year after City officials approved this interim ordinance, residents, noting that 9 million square feet of  new commercial development had been added to the Santa Monica townscape, placed a measure on the 2008 ballot that would have limited commercial development to 75,000 square feet a year for 15 years. Larger projects would have been submitted to city voters.

Though Prop T seemed to reflect City Hall’s posture on commercial development as expressed in its 2007 interim ordinance, the City turned its biggest guns on Prop T. The City Manager, Planning Director and City Council members all bashed it. Developers underwrote a $700,000 assault on it. Prominent citizens, including State Senator  Shiela Kuehl, appeared in a tsunami of mailers, savaging  Prop T. Judy Abdo and Terry O’Day ran a bogus committee, “Save Our City,” which alleged Prop T would destroy  the City and the schools. Prop T failed: 18,439 to 23,061.

Dispatch: Long live Residocracy.





Harrison Ford has done very well in the movies. . But, as he used to tell us at every opportunity,  he paid his dues. He did voice-overs and worked as a carpenter to the stars for several years before he became a star himself. In other words, as he enjoyed saying in interviews,  he was just an ordinary guy. But, of course, he didn’t believe it for a minute.

Among his carpentry customers were George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, both of whom played key roles in his career. He had bit parts in  Coppola’s “The Conversation” and “Apocalypse Now” and a supporting role in Lucas’s “American Graffiti.”

Lucas hired Ford to read with other actors when he was casting “Star Wars” and eventually cast him as Han Solo. He was also cast as Indiana Jones in that very successful series.  Ford received one Oscar — for “Witness.” His box office grosses total close to $3.4 billion, and his film’s worldwide grosses surpass $6 billion. Three of  Ford’s films are among the top five box office hits of all time.

Ford is 71 now and has been cast in Lucas’s latest “Star Wars.”

He and his third wife,  Calista Flockhart, recently sold their Brentwood house for $8+ million, and bought another house in Mandeville Canyon. They also own a ranch in Montana.

Though it took four years and cost him $90 million to divorce his second wife, Melissa Mathison, a talented and successful screenwriter, his current net worth is reportedly  $210 million.

It has been reported that he keeps eight airplanes in hangers at Santa Monica Airport – both fixed wing and helicopters, as well as a jet. As it happens, he prefers avoiding the freeways and flying to the set, and has joined the nation-wide organization of pilots and  lucrative aviation businesses that opposes residents’ long-running efforts to close the airport when its lease with FAA ends next year.

Residents in Santa Monica and  Los Angeles  have cited constant pollution from jet fuel, noise, and numerous plane crashes in adjacent residential neighborhoods as the bases for the closure, and plan on turning the airport land into a park.

We wonder whether Ford would approve an airport in Mandeville.





Conservancy members and friends will  march in Friday’s Ocean Park 4th of July Parade.

If you’re planning to watch, stop by the new site of the Shotgun House across Norman Place from the Ocean Park Library (2520 2nd Street) and take a look at the progress we’ve made.  We’ll have a table set up during and after the parade to tell you and your friends about the rehabilitation and our plans for the Preservation Resource Center.

To sign up to march with us  send an email with your name and the names of anyone coming with you to

Each person participating in the parade must sign a waiver/release form.  We can’t get you a wristband to participate unless we turn in your signed form!

Meet us near the Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main Street between 8 and 8:45 am.  We’ll tell you exactly where to meet us as soon as the Parade Committee tells us!

Parking will be available in the Civic Center Parking Structure.  Expect street closures and detours along the parade route, which will be south on Main to Marine Street, then west to Barnard Way, ending at the beach parking lot just south of Ocean Park Blvd. Questions? Check out the info on the Ocean Park Association website.  For Conservancy questions, email or leave a message at 310-496-3146.



“May the Fourth Be With You” is the theme of  the  eighth annual Santa Monica Fourth of July parade, which is held every year in Ocean Park.

Eight years ago, a small group of Ocean Park residents decided to stage a Fourth of July Parade. It was an immediate hit – in Ocean Park and the rest of this grand old beach town – informal, colorful and amusing.

Its eighth iteration will  assemble on Main Street in front of Santa Monica City Hall at 7 am on Friday, July Fourth, and move down Main Street at 9:30 am all the way to Marine, at which point it will turn right, roll down Marine to Barnard Way to the beach and … disappear.

As ever, it will be both  moving and amusing. And there is bound to be a surprise or several.

Actually, in the beginning, Santa Monica and Ocean Park were separate towns. Santa Monica was founded by two very solid citizens – Senator John Jones, who’d made a fortune mining silver in Nevada, planned to build a railroad that would connect the coast with downtown Los Angeles  and Robert Baker, who planned, with a group of English investors, to build a new town on the coast called Truxton.  Both men were foiled. Jones lost the railroad race to Collis Huntington. The Truxton plan was abandoned by Baker’s English investors. Jones and Baker inevitably became partners, pooled their resources and founded Santa Monica. Like its founders, Santa Monica was starchy, and very conservative.

Ocean Park was founded by Abbott Kinney, who had designed and built Venice. It was as light-hearted  as Venice, and featured gambling, horse racing and other light-hearted pleasures and was much more entertaining  than Santa Monica. But, early on, Kinney sold it to Santa Monica, so he could focus on Venice.

The beachfront neighborhood has attracted artists in all media, and activists  and been seen by many residents and visitors as the ultimate Santa Monica. Its residents have always been active in local  politics. It was the epi-center of both surfing and skateboarding, and it is entirely fitting that Santa Monica Conservancy chose to locate its new HQ, “The Shotgun House,” in Ocean Park.

The deadline for parade entries was June 25. As in years past. a poster contest has been held and the entries are quite stunning. For more information, go to


The deadline for parade entries was June 25. As in years past, a poster contest has

been held, and the entries are quite stunning.


For more information, go to


As July 4th approaches, the Santa Monica Fire and Police Departments have issued  a reminder that ALL types of fireworks are illegal in the City of Santa Monica, including  so-called “safe and sane” fireworks, which may not be used in Santa Monica EVEN IF they are legal in the city in which they are purchased.

5615 Seizure of Fireworks. All fireworks shall be illegal in the City of Santa Monica, including California State Fire Marshal Safe and Sane. The fire code official shall have the authority to seize, take and remove fireworks and/or safe and sane fireworks stored, sold, offered for sale, used or handled in violation of the provisions of Title 19 CCR, Chapter 6 and Health and Safety Code, Chapter 9. Exception: When permits are issued for such use.

The public is urged to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers sustained injuries related to fireworks – up from 8,700 injuries in 2012. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013 occurred in the 30 days that preceded and followed July 4, 2013.

Last year, children younger than age 5 experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group. Past reports indicate that consumers sometimes feel comfortable handing off to children fireworks devices perceived to be less powerful, such as sparklers and bottle rockets. In 2013, sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40 percent of all estimated injuries. (Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, NFPA).


For information: Suzanne Post, Fire Safety Coordinator. 310-458-8761