Santa Monica Dispatch

The Santa Monica Dispatch is an independent newspaper founded and edited by Peggy Clifford. Our objective is to give voice to the community.

Results for category "Government"

TO GOVERNOR: SIGN AUTISM BILL NOW

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

SB 946, California’s autism insurance reform bill, needs only Governor Brown signature to become law, but he must sign it in the next three days.

Autism Votes urges all Californians to inform the governor that by signing SB 946 into law, he will create 20,000 new jobs, save the state $140 million and help 30,000 children with autism live more independent lives.

Call the governor at 916 445 2841. Follow your call with an email reiterating the message, and post this information on your Facebook page, and the governor’s page.

LINK TO: www.autismvotes.org/SB946CreatesJobs .

To learn more about this legislation, visit Autism Votes website at: www.autismvotes.org/California.

Join Autism Votes Mobile by texting “AVotes” to 30644!

Autism Votes is an initiative of Autism Speaks.

Work on Urban Forest Master Plan Continues Tonight

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The review process for the City’s Urban Forest Master Plan continues. So far, it hasn’t gone well. Promises have not been kept. The City has failed to acknowledge, much less incorporate residents’ wishes, in the plan and the war on palm trees continues. But perhaps if residents persist, the City will finally listen.

The Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force will continue its deliberations on the draft plan tonight at 6:30 pm at the MLK Jr. Auditorium at the Santa Monica Main Public Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd). Public input welcome.

It will also be discussed October 10 by the Landmarks Commission, 7:00pm, Council Chambers, October 17, by the Task Force on the Environment, 7:00pm, Ken Edwards Center, Room 103, October 20, Recreation & Parks Commission 7:30pm Council Chambers, October 26, Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force, 6:30pm MLK Jr. Auditorium, Main Library, November 2, tentative, Planning Commission, 7 pm, Council Chambers, November TBA, Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force, 6:30pm, TBA.

The Draft Urban Forest Master Plan will be reviewed and acted upon by City Council on December 13.

Visit www.santamonicatrees.com for the draft document and details on any additional meetings. Copies of the draft plan are also available for review at any branch of the Santa Monica Public Library or at the Public Landscape Division Offices at Clover Park (2600 Ocean Park Blvd).

If you are not able to attend a meeting, please visit www.santamonicatrees.com to see what’s proposed for your street. 310-458-8974 I trees@smgov.net I www.santamonicatrees.com
1685 Main St. Rm 210 | Santa Monica, CA 90401 US

INSURANCE INDUSTRY LOBBIES AGAINST AUTISM INSURANCE REFORM

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The insurance industry is pressing Governor Brown to veto SB 946, and permit insurance discrimination to continue against children with autism in California.

Autism Votes, an initiative of Autism Speaks, is urging all California voters to use Facebook to counter the insurance companies’ campaign.

Suggested sample text: “URGENT ATTN CALIFORNIA FRIENDS! I need your help to ensure that Gov. Brown DOES NOT veto the autism insurance reform bill, SB 946, by sending him an email now. He cannot allow insurance discrimination to continue against children with autism. Please go to the link below & take action. Share on your page & write DONE so I can thank you!”

LINK TO: www.autismvotes.org/SignSB946

People can also join Autism Votes Mobile by texting “AVotes” to 30644!

To learn more about the legislation, please visit the California page on the Autism Votes website at: www.autismvotes.org/California.

For more information on Autism Votes, please visit www.autismvotes.org.

AIRPORT “VISIONING PROCESS” BIASED

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

To: Mayor Bloom and Honorable City Council members
From: Board of Directors, Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP)
Re: City Council Special Meeting – October 4, 2011 – Agenda Item 4-A

It has become very apparent from the language of the Staff Report for 10/4/11 agenda item 4-A that the City staff is reluctant to pursue airport closure as an option. Not only are they reluctant, but the “Visioning Process” has been tainted with this bias from its inception.

Point C was directed to engage participants “in a conversation focused specifically on ideas to craft a new direction for the future of the airport as an airport and as a community asset.” Therefore, their conclusions from the interview process reflected that bias. FOSP previously expressed the opinion that the Point C interview process was biased, and the outcome has revealed that to be true.

The Staff Report mentions in broad terms some of the federal laws, as well as existing airport- related documents and agreements, that have led them to this conclusion. The FOSP Board would like to see a more in depth evaluation of the aforementioned, as well as any other items that may have a bearing on the closure option. We feel it would be beneficial to have an unbiased outside party do the evaluations.

So the question arises, if the airport is to continue to exist after the expiration of the 1984 Agreement, what will its character be?

FOSP was hoping that the RAND Corporation findings would offer some appealing options of a more community compatible airport. Unfortunately, the RAND findings revealed in the Staff Report do not address ANY of the major concerns of the community: aircraft emissions, noise, or safety.

Instead we are offered a menu of vanilla items that mostly address usage of the non-aviation land. Although we would welcome the suggested intersection improvement at Airport Avenue and Walgrove, many of the other items put forth would aggravate the most complained about topic in our neighborhood besides the airport: TRAFFIC. Development of the non-aviation land is not going to make the community view the airport as a “community asset.” We really expected better from an organization with the stature of RAND.

In addition, the economic impact analysis prepared by HR&A twists data to reflect a pro-airport bias. It fails to separate aviation-related employment from non-aviation employment at the airport. It compares the “Airport Campus” as a single employer when it is really a collection of small businesses, city services, SMC, and temporary event employment. Many of these employers are NOT dependent on the airport to exist and could flourish without it — but this is not explored in the report. The economic analysis also failed to study any economic benefit (perhaps more favorable) that might be possible if the airport were closed.

Finally, we have heard ad nauseum about the million dollars spent over eight years on the court case related to the City’s ban on C and D jets. Does this amount include salaries of airport staff, City Attorney, etc. which would have been paid out whether the staff was working on the airport court case or not? Why didn’t the Staff Report place the $1 million spent on trying to protect residents from airport impacts in the context of the City’s total expenditures of something like $4 billion over those same eight years? Again, the information in the Staff Report seems to be geared toward a particular outcome in the Airport Visioning process.

At least the $1 million was well spent in fighting the good fight. David would have been proud of the City, even though we did not prevail against the FAA’s Goliath in this battle.

What has been a waste is the money spent on these Phase I consultants’ studies. When we asked for studies to be done about future options for the Airport, we did not include bias in our request.

If the plan is to run the Phase III Focus Groups discussions with same bias reflected in this Staff Report, that is just plain UNACCEPTABLE.

As the Airport Visioning process continues, FOSP would like the City Council to direct staff to:

· Provide a more in depth analysis of laws, documents, court cases, etc. that would have bearing on options for the airport’s future. Make the analysis available to the public.

· Study options available at the expiration of the 1984 Agreement that could reduce the safety, noise, and environmental impacts. (For example, don’t renew or grant leases to businesses that have negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.)

· Ensure that the Phase III focus groups are NOT conducted within a biased framework.

NO DICE, a Santa Monica Murder Mystery, by Mar Preston

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

Last section posted on 9/24

Chapter Nine, second two

The faces of the cop by her door and the old fellow with the measuring tape kept popping out at Ginger, jumping in her face, startling her, scalding her with what-might-have-beens. Stress clamped down all her muscles and she ached from head to toe like an abscessed tooth. She forced herself to get through the essential things at the top of the To Do list. Get to work. Check email, do press calls. Say hello to the volunteers and go and hide in her office.

She put her forehead down on her desk and gradually felt better. Ramon came in and stood looking at her. Just as she was about to bring up the subject of last night’s council meeting fiasco, Wally called. Ginger punched him onto speaker phone.

“How could you let that happen?” Wally bellowed.

“I had nothing to do with that. That was Martina acting on her own.”

“It’s your job to control your volunteers,” he said, slurring his words.

“Nobody controls her. Including you, Wally.”

“Did you see the paper? They’re laughing at you. Do something.”

“Like what, Wally? Like what? You tell me what. Precisely what.”

Wally hung up on her, leaving Ramon and Ginger looking at each other.

“He sounds like he’s drunk, doesn’t he?” Ginger reflected.

“He’s never made any secret that he goes to AA. Hasn’t it been something like, what, twenty years though since he’s had a drink?”

“Think so.”

“What does it matter what he thinks. He’s gone over to the Dark Side–even though he denies it. I’m trying my best to keep the press away from him.”

“He told one of the volunteers that the police were harassing him. Maybe that’s what tipped him over the edge,” Ramon added.

Ginger spent the morning on the phone soothing the other members of the coalition and the councilmembers who blamed her for the disruption in City Council chambers. Martina had staged battles in the city for years and everybody dreaded the prospect of going up against her. It was how she got away with being outrageous. Sometimes she fought the battles nobody else would take on. Ginger called her and found Martina serenely indifferent to any consequences.

When the on-line newspaper was posted, Ginger read it avidly. The police spokesman called them an unruly mob and made dark statements about not allowing permits to assemble in the future. The Executive Committee of the Board met and advised Ginger to pull together in unity with Martina. Just make the best of what happened.

Ginger felt like quitting and couldn’t. Nobody else was going to insure her with fibromyalgia. She had to keep the job until she found health insurance somewhere else.

When she couldn’t stand people berating her any longer, she drove over to Kathleen’s apartment. Sitting on a kitchen chair in the middle of Kathleen’s empty bedroom, Ginger thought about finding another job after the election. She’d always known this one would come to an end.

Maybe she’d leave Santa Monica altogether and do something useful in a community where they had real problems. In the Pico Neighborhood, people worried about being able to buy shoes for the kids. Can I make the rent? My daughter’s dating a tattooed biker. Who am I going to leave my kids with when I go to work?

It would be the last she saw of Mason anyway.

Mason drove out the Palmdale highway by himself, and in the deep, dark star-lit night of the high desert, he pulled off the road, took a shovel and buried his old friend. He stood by the make-shift grave, dry-eyed and thought about his life. He felt so disconnected that if he lifted both feet off the ground he’d float away.

When he got to work the next day he heard about the demo at city hall and shook his head in disgust. What was the matter with McNair.

He put off telling Haley and Diana about Buddy’s death until he couldn’t stand it any longer. Diana cried. Mason offered to come over and she told him not to. Asshole would be home soon.

Haley took the news better than Mason had expected. Then she told him that she was going to have a new baby brother or sister anyway.

The excitement in her voice broke Mason’s heart.

In the midst of strategizing with Ramon about how to keep the coalition together, Ginger got a call from Ida Watkins.

“Oh, Miss McNair. It’s Ida Watkins, the docent from the Centinela Adobe. You know, we had that nice talk about Daniel?”

“I remember you very well, Mrs. Watkins. Did Detective Mason get in touch with you?”

“Oh my, yes. And Mrs. Wheelis from the Culver City Police too. They both seemed very interested in that fellow who was planning the memorial for him.”

I’ll bet, Ginger thought.

“I tried and I tried to remember what he looked like. Anyway, I’m calling you because he came back again. Just as we were closing up on Sunday. I saw him back in the staff area–where he had no business! But he was very nice and all. I’ve been so busy with my husband and the doctors I didn’t get a chance to think about it until now. But this time I asked him for his name. He left me his card.”

Ginger leaned forward and pulled the telephone closer to her. “Really? What does it say?”

“Let me see now.”

Ginger waited, her fingers itching.

“I just had it. Where is it? Oh, here it is. It says his name is David Evan Mowbry, Ph.D., the California Teacher’s Assembly. He has an office in Garden Grove, 1517 Placentia Avenue.”

Ginger turned to her computer and Googled the California Teacher’s Assembly while Watkins talked.

“Call Detective Mason. Okay? Tell him I told you, won’t you?”

“I should have called you sooner, but there’s so much to do getting my husband to the doctor and then the pharmacies and there’s all the bills. My sons help but they work, you know.”

“We all do the best we can, Mrs. Watkins. If we could do better, we would. Right?”

“Well, that’s a nice way to look at it, dear.”

They hung up with Ginger’s promise to visit the adobe again which she firmly intended to as soon as this was over. She looked at the Google results on her computer.

No such thing as the California Teachers’ Assembly. Nothing for Evan Mowbry.

Mason got the news about McNair and the shot gun. He grimaced and set it aside to talk to her later. This was the first big case Wozinski had worked and he was taking it so seriously Mason was afraid he’d pop a vein. He had a habit of letting out eerie groans while he concentrated, completely unaware of what he was doing. They had started calling him Woz and the nickname and its sign of acceptance made him grin shyly every time he heard it.

He was going in two directions as once, trying to track down Baker’s interest in the Sears property and the building of the Santa Monica Freeway. Sears had opened in 1946, and was in its day touted as a prime example of Late Moderne Architecture.

“What have you got, Woz?” Mason said, pausing at his desk. He helped himself to a handful of chips from the bag Wozinski kept at his desk.

“Look.” He showed Mason a list of addresses on the 400 block of Colorado. Next to each name was an occupation. “Baker went to a lot of trouble to get this.”

“Occupation?”

“Yeah, they listed your occupation in the phone book here in Santa Monica—maybe everywheres back then, Except for women.” He pointed to women’s names and the tag “Widow.”

“Geez, don’t tell that to some of the feminazi’s around here.” Mason got a little ugly thrill of forbidden sexism and immediately hoped nobody heard him. He got like that around other cops.

Wozinski flipped up a page on the notepad and pointed. “See.” Here again was Baker’s list of titles on the 400 block from the Land Recording office in Norwalk.

He shrugged. “Why?”


Mason decided to walk over to Lawrence’s offices on the Third Street Promenade and ask him about the Sears property on the 400 block of Colorado Avenue. He saw with a cop’s eye the homeless vets and runaway teenagers occupying the benches set out for tourists exhausted from spending money at the chain retail stores. The cops in West LA and Venice swept the gangs and the homeless westward toward the ocean and Santa Monica formed the edge of the continent.

Pitiful creatures, some of them, old and broken and sick. They waited around for the free lunches the do-gooders served up. Drifters came because the weather was good, because they were out of work and hungry. Mason had sat through enough hearings on how to serve the homeless until he was weary of the whole thing. Like so many other issues, it didn’t look so black and white to him anymore. He could debate the police line one way and then turn around and with equal conviction, turn all the arguments upside down and sound like a goddamn liberal. Splitting up with Diana eroded the certainty out of him about a lot of things.

Mason came in just as Jimmy Edwards was signing for a Fed Ex box. Lawrence was in court. Edwards had a kind of sizzle, charisma, whatever it was called, a kind of scorched energy about him. Mason gave him that. He watched how his co-worker’s eyes followed him. He walked Mason back to his office. Edwards came across as willing to help but puzzled about Mason’s interest in the Sears property put together in 1946.

“Why your interest in this?” He ripped the tape off the Sharper Image box and sat down, glancing up at Mason.

“Just curiosity.”

“Oh?”

“Answer the question, Mr. Edwards.”

“Call me Jimmy.”

“Answer the question, Jimmy.”

“You want me to explain exactly what about the Sears property from 1946?”

“The store was built in 1946. Tell me about how that land deal was put together.”

“I don’t know just of the top of my head. Why would you want to know that?”

“Things come up.”

Edwards sent the bubble wrap flying, grinning at Mason, white teeth flashing.

“Breathalyzer. Ninety-nine bucks.

“You like to drink and drive?”

“Oh, come on. Don’t be a downer. I like my toys.”

Okay, asshole, Mason thought, here it comes. “We found something interesting in your background check. You were born Diego Eduardo Hernandez, County of Los Angeles, 1970. Let’s see, where is it? 1974?”

Edwards went hard-faced and stopped reading the instruction booklet. “So what?”

“Tell me. Do all your colleagues here know that the bio posted on the company’s website is bullshit? No sister living in Paris. Come on. Your parents teaching at Ivy League Schools? Your mother is Rosa Maria Marta Hernandez. Father Miguel Julio Contreras, deceased. Your mother is a housekeeper at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. An illegal.”

“So?”

“You were born and raised around Vermont and Exposition near USC.”

“Won a Neighborhood Scholarship to USC because I was smart and worked my ass off.”

“And kept your nose clean. No criminal record.”

“You got a point here, Mason?”

Mason made himself perfectly still, eyes fixed on Edwards-Hernandez, expression neutral. They waged the battle in tense silence. He became aware of the guy’s breathing.

Mason continued reading from the report prepared for him. “The good brother.”

“..And the Bad Boy. I wondered when you’d get around to him. I’ve got nothing to do with my brother. Haven’t seen him in years.” Edwards sat down in his high-tech chair, flipping a switch and sinking back with a motorized hum. He found his fingers of great interest. Lacing them together, he formed a church and steeple.

Mason continued reading: “String of arrests for assault, larceny, extortion, armed robbery, drugs. He beat rape, pleaded out to some, did county time, then he got put down for ten years on a strong-arm robbery beef. Pelican Bay, then he gets off for good behavior, even though there’s a couple of shank killings with his name on it. But soon enough he’s sent back. Bad luck, huh? Everybody knows he runs the local gang with the homies outside and pretty much leaves him alone there. But somebody’s going to take him down in the showers one of these days.”

Edwards was silent.

“You keep up with your mother?”

“My mother is a saint. Leave her out of this.” Edwards pressed a button and the chair ejected him. He sprang to his feet.

“You speak Spanish?”

“No.”

“How come?” He thought about the guy the dishwasher had seen coming down the alley about the right time for the Dyson killing.

“You think anybody with a Latino name is a wetback greaser. Is that it?”

“I don’t think that at all.”

”Some of your best friends are wetback greasers, right?”

The silence between them burned.

“If that’s all?”

“I just want you to know something, Jimmy. Sooner or later, we find what we’re looking for. Police work isn’t rocket science. It’s basic arithmetic. Who did what to somebody else. It adds up. Sometimes long after you think you should just give up. Lotta times we just get a tip.” Mason stood up.

“Right now it’s my personal mission in life to get you.”

“Whoa! Am I scared or what?”

Mason took his leave slowly. His demeanor changed as he left the elegant offices. A sudden triumphant smile broke out before being smothered in an expression of grim satisfaction.

Ginger got a call from an old woman who lived in a bungalow loomed over by monster mansions in the ritzy part of town. Dora Skylor had been friendly to the canvassers when they’d covered the north of Montana section earlier in the year. She’d called up Ginger a few times to ask hard-edged questions to be able to inform her group as Chair of the Neighborhood Association.

“There’s somebody you should meet,” Mrs. Skylor said without preamble. “He doesn’t go out so we have to visit him.”

“I’m pretty busy these days, Mrs. Skylor. Can you tell me what it’s about?” Ginger said, shuffling invoices on her desk. Which one to pay?

“I think he just might give you a big check.”

“Oh?” She set the pile of invoices down. “In that case. What’s his name?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know him. He’s quite old so it will have to be when he says. Okay with you?”

“Come on, Mrs. Skylor. Who is it?”

“Oh, call me Dora. His name wouldn’t mean anything to you. But let me tell you, this is going to be worth your while.”


(to be continued)

NO DICE is available at Amazon

SPEAKING OF TREES…

Peggy Clifford 1 Comment

Here is my correspondence with the city tree coordinator about the trees proposed for in front of my house, which, according to the web, “smell like semen.” My inquiry was not taken seriously. If it does have the unpleasant odor that has been observed in Santa Cruz and San Francisco, they are not likely to stay in place very long! There are a lot of people taking walks in this neighborhood who would notice a tree that is not pleasant to be around.

Abby Arnold

To: Randy Little, City of Santa Monica
From: Abby Arnold

Hello from 668 Marine Street!

The Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’ looks beautiful! One concern I have: when I looked up the tree on the web, I found a reference that said: ” In spring before the new leaves unfold, the tree puts on a brilliant display of pure white flowers which, unfortunately, do not have a pleasant fragrance. ”

Does this mean it is a NASTY smelling tree, or a non-smelling tree?

From: Randy Little, City of Santa Monica
To: Abby Arnold

The tree has a very limited fragrance that typically goes unnoticed. Thank you.

Former SM City Manager Takes Helm in Compton

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Amid financial turmoil and changing political tides, the Compton City Council has voted to fire its third city manager in five years.

“The council voted to bring in Lamont Ewell, a former Compton firefighter who went on to serve as city manager for cities including San Diego and Santa Monica before retiring in 2009, as Norfleet’s replacement. Ewell’s contract is slated to be approved next week.

“Ewell, who grew up in Compton, said taking the helm during a troubled time is a way for him to pay back a debt to the city.

“’Given the fact that, in my view, the city has actually been responsible for the career I enjoyed for 34 years before retiring, I felt it was the least I could do to help in any way I can,’ he said.

“The appointment will bring Ewell out of retirement on a temporary basis in hopes he’ll spark a turnaround in the troubled city. Under law, Ewell may only work full time for up to a year without sacrificing his pension benefits. The listed pay for the city manager’s post is $185,000 a year.

“Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux, who voted to fire Norfleet, said the council majority was unhappy with the way he handled the budget, and particularly with his lack of communication with some council members during the process…

“Reached by phone, Norfleet said he had done his best in a tough situation and thought he was targeted partly because he pushed the council to make tough fiscal choices.”

TO SANTA MONICA URBAN FOREST TASK FORCE

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Copies to: Santa Monica City Council, City Manager, Planning Commission, Task Force on the Environment, Recreation and Parks Commission, city staff, interested citizens, media representatives

We are writing to express concern about recent events that are having the unfortunate effect of discouraging public participation in the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force’s process and inciting public mistrust of the Task Force.

1. When completed, the Urban Forest Master Plan will affect residents, voters, taxpayers, businesses and visitors in the city for the next 50-100 years. As a result, many members of our community are intensely interested in the work of the Task Force.

2. The Task Force’s original agenda called for completion of its work in June 2011. The group’s recommendations were to be forwarded to the City Council via three city entities: the Environmental Task Force, the Recreation and Parks Commission and the Planning Commission. The Task Force’s original agenda called for the presentation of its Master Plan to City Council on October 20, 2011.

3. In response to complaints about lack of public notice and transparency this past summer, the city sent notices to city residents in August advising them of the work of the Task Force and offering opportunities for public input.

4. The Task Force assured citizens that public input would be taken into account as the Task Force worked toward developing a Master Plan. It further assured citizens that the Task Force’s process would be open and transparent.

5. All told, hundreds of community members have offered public input and testimony, and have signed petitions to the Task Force. This demonstrates that many people in our community have deeply held opinions and concerns about the trees that frame our homes, define our neighborhoods and grace our city. Yet even now, more people are just beginning to hear about the work of the Task Force and are desiring to get involved in the selection of street trees for their areas.

6. Specific recommendations for replacement trees have been prepared for the Task Force by its Species Selection Subcommittee. This subcommittee has deliberated in sessions that were closed to the public.

7. Two public input sessions were held in September in response to public complaints about lack of transparency, and were promoted as efforts to gather public advice on street tree selection. Two of the three Task Force members who serve on the crucial Tree Selection Subcommittee did not attend the second of these sessions.

8. Through Task Force sign-in sheets, many citizens shared their email addresses with the city in the expectation that they would receive timely information about upcoming meetings of the Task Force as well as about potential revisions in the city’s Draft Urban Forest Master Plan that might affect their homes, neighborhoods, businesses and personal well-being.

9. Through testimony, petitions and other input, members of the public have spoken consistently and eloquently about desires to maintain and preserve the city’s beautiful, historic and iconic allees of palm trees; to replace palms with other palms when replacement is necessary; and to keep historic allees free of interplanting with other, non-palm species. The city’s Land Use & Circulation Element also calls for maintaining and preserving the unique and historic streetscapes of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

10. At its meeting on Sept. 26, 2011, the Task Force unveiled the recommendations of the Species Selection Subcommittee.

11. The Species Selection Subcommittee’s report and accompanying draft Master Plan were the culmination of months of work, and will form the backbone of the Task Force’s plan for the future of the city’s street trees. The two lengthy documents that were discussed at the Sept. 26th meeting contain detailed and intricate street-by-street and block-by-block descriptions of the subcommittee’s vision of the trees to be planted in the city’s parkways for the next 50 to 100 years.

12. Members of the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force received two reports (the subcommittee’s report and an appendix that included the street-by-street tree recommendations) by email in advance of the Sept. 26 meeting. Members of the public did not receive either report before the meeting.

13. Because members of the public did not receive the reports in advance of the meeting, they were precluded from organizing neighborhood attendance at the meeting or gathering neighborhood responses to the subcommittee’s recommendations.

14. Members of the public who did attend the Sept. 26th meeting were told they had just 48 hours to provide written responses to the recommendations.

15. Some members of the public who attended the Sept. 26th meeting were clearly unhappy that they had not been notified in advance of the subcommittee’s recommendations. They heckled the Task Force loudly midway through the meeting, demanding the right to speak, and were told by the Task Force chair that they were out oforder.

16. Despite the public’s well-articulated desire to maintain and preserve the city’s historic palm allees, the subcommittee’s recommendations designate non-palm species for replacement or interplantings on palm-dominated streets in at least six neighborhoods.

17. The Task Force also appears to have eliminated all language regarding protection of “significant trees, allees and groupings that are iconic or historic in nature” from its working draft.

18. Despite repeated requests from the public throughout the Task Force’s deliberations, the current draft of the Urban Forest Master Plan does not provide for an appeals process or public collaboration in matters relating to street trees.

19. The Draft Master Plan also contains no mechanism for fine-tuning tree planting plans on street segments, particularly in the palm districts, where there is a high level of neighborhood interest, and where planting and placement decisions may be complex and will have consequences for decades to come.

20. Members of the public were told that the Task Force must complete its work by October 5, 2011, with presentation to City Council promised for December 2011. Thisleaves just one more Task Force meeting for discussion of countless intricate details involving recommendations for street trees on all of the city’s many streets.

21. The Task Force has no articulated process for next steps that affected citizens can discern. It is not clear when the city’s boards and commissions will consider the Task Force’s finished product, how citizens may provide input to those groups, or how differing revisions of the Task Force’s report might be reconciled. A work agenda currently displayed on the Task Force’s website is out of date and inaccurate.

22. The foregoing creates the distinct impression that the Task Force is being rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline at the expense of the integrity of its process. Creating a master plan for the city’s street trees is a massive project. Neither Task Force members nor members of the public can responsibly analyze the enormous amounts of data necessary for reasoned decision-making in the time allotted.

23. The foregoing creates the further impression that the city is not being candid when it claims that it values public input in the tree selection process. Public input in the development of Santa Monica’s Urban Forest Master Plan seems to be neither desired nor heeded, but seems rather to be at best window dressing for an extraordinarily rushed and flawed process. There is a widely held perception among members of the public that the next hundred years of the city’s urban forest are being shaped by a Task Force that discounts and disregards the wishes and judgments of citizens.

24. We urge the Task Force to pull back, extend its deadlines, and seek to engage with the public in a comprehensive, collaborative and genuine fashion. Railroading this Master Plan through to meet an arbitrary, pre-arranged deadline will only stoke further public distrust of the Task Force and its process.

Sincerely,

Patricia E. Bauer
502 20th Street

Caryn Marshall
609 21st Street

HOUSE VOTE ON AUTISM BILL IS TUESDAY

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) will be heard on the House floor tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, September 20th, for a final vote.

In order to ensure that our Congressman, Henry Waxman, votes for this vital bill, please call and email him and ask him to vote yes for Reauthorization. Ideally, his phones will ring off the hook until the vote is taken.
Rep. Waxman’s phone number is (202) 225-3976

Identify yourself as a resident of his district and his constituent and ask him to vote YES when the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act is called for a vote on the House floor.

In addition, please ask Waxman to vote YES for CARA by sending him an email here. We have preloaded the system so if Waxman has already sponsored this legislation, he will receive a thank you note and if not he will receive a request to vote YES. www.autismvotes.org/CARA-House.

Finally, spread the word on FACEBOOK, by posting the the following message on your Facebook page:
“URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Call your Member of Congress to ask him or her to vote YES on the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act which will go to the House floor for a final vote Tuesday afternoon, September 20.”

To learn more about the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, please visit our CARA Action Center.

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A PLETHORA OF ICONS

Peggy Clifford 0 Comments

Like James Corner, who’s designing the Palisades Garden Walk in the Civic Center, Peter Walker, who’s designing the Esplanade at the western end of Colorado Avenue, is a “world-class” landscape architect. As noted in “Santa Monica Talking Hype, Not Truth” (see below), the Santa Monica City Council is crazy about “world class” people and “world class” stuff.

Since the Garden Walk and the Esplanade bracket the Holiday Inn, its guests will have front row seats at the battle of the world class landscape architects. It may even want to promote its proximity to the epic battle. After all, here and now, Corner and Walker are the hottest landscape architects in America, and possibly the world, and they’re right here in our town. WOW!

At last night’s Planning Commission meeting, a partner from Peter Walker and Partners made a power point presentation of some of the firm’s relevant projects, including part of the World Trade Center memorial, which opened Sunday. Noting that he and Walker both grew up in Southern California, he went on to describe in some detail the firm’s notion of what the Esplanade should do and be.

Like Corner, he talked a lot about “icons” and features that should be “iconic.” He also talked about gateways,” as in the “iconic” Esplanade will be a “gateway” to the Santa Monica Pier, the beach and the ocean.

City officials have said repeatedly that the station at the end of the Expo light rail line, at Colorado and Fourth, should be a “gateway,” welcoming disembarking passengers to Santa Monica, the pier and the beach, as if they’re afraid that if passengers aren’t properly “welcomed,” they’ll refuse to disembark and
go back to Culver City.

The beach and the ocean can’t be topped, and shouldn’t be embellished or tricked up. They are irresistible, and are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

The pier has long been a world-famous icon. In 1983, after a pair of storms had ripped the west end of the pier off and taken a 45,000 square foot bite out Of the southwest corner of the deck, photos of the battered pier appeared on the front pages of newspapers in Japan. Film footage of the pier appears in the run-up to virtually all the local TV news programs. The arched sign at the entrance to the pier, which went up in 1941, is an icon all by itself, as are the Carousel building and its merry-go-round.

And the broad beach and the Pacific Ocean are both icons and iconic. In the same way, Palisades Park, which spans Santa Monica from its northern border to the Pier, but is only several yards wide, is an icon.

Do Corner and Walker, our planners and the Council actually believe that they can and should top the park, the pier, the beach and the ocean? In fact, they can’t and they shouldn’t try. Rather than tricking up Palisades Garden Walk with an “arroyo motif,” “water features” and viewing cages, Corner should make a pleasant, serene green way station in which people going to the beach or the pier or returning from it could pause. And Walker’s principal task should be creating some simple means of separating pedestrians, cyclists and cars – on their way to and from the beach.

When everything’s an icon, nothing’s an icon. Santa Monica has a number of authentic icons, all of which had modest beginnings. The municipal pier’s primary reason for being was to carry the city sewer line out to sea. Arcadia Bandini Stearns De Baker gave the land for the very long, very narrow Palisades Park, but had no idea that it would become a magnate for successive generations of newly arrived immigrants. City Hall was a Depression era Public Works Administration project that turned out to be Streamline Moderne masterpiece. RAND’s original buildings were iconic, perfect representations of their era, while its current building is more bunker than building. Tony DeLapp’s “Wave,” which spans Wilshire, was commissioned by the City and designed to be an icon and a gateway, and is just a bore.

A studio executive, on viewing Fred Astaire’s screen test, wrote “Balding. Can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little.” Years later, at an American Film Institute event honoring Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikof said, “The rest of us dance, Fred does something else.”

We think it’s time for the City. Corner and Walker to do an Astaire.