ZONING CODE BLUES

A multitude of regulations, ordinances, laws, boards, commissions, etc. define, affect, and impact the work that architects and clients do designing and planning buildings, and public spaces.

A complex web of regulations push on the buildable envelope in one place only to be pushed back by another, making the design process sometimes complex and expensive. Clients expect their consultants to design their projects in compliance with the applicable governing ordinances. They expect them to know exactly what can be built on their project site, creating designs that solves their project requirements and budget and satisfies their, and the communities, aesthetic values.

Sadly … the reality is that one may indeed satisfy zoning and all other applicable code requirements, yet have the project stopped or delayed, and more modifications required for non pre-determined reasons. For example, a commercial or multi-family project is subject to review and approval by the Architectural Review Board (ARB). The ARB can deny the project based on its color, or materials, or placement of a window or door, and send the project back for re-design adding the possibility of thousands of dollars more in design fees and construction costs. These often-subjective decisions are impossible to predict, other than to know they can occur.

structures that impress and stick in the minds of the public seem to be the structures that were built many years ago that are often low-rise, modest in scale, with recessed storefronts and distinctive architectural features. It is ironic that the ARB has been in existence for about forty years, has approved every commercial and multi-family project built in that time, yet the public perception is that the overall feel of the architecture in our city is ‘pedestrian’, or at best “average”.

The General Plan, and the LUCE, have been re-written over the last several years. And now the zoning code update, but there isn’t one week where some new issue doesn’t arise requiring analysis and response to the City, often in opposition. Why? Because it seems that the need to simplify and clarify is not the end goal of those writing the new code.

In the interest of flexibility (read exceptional freedom to overbuild) the new proposed code is larded with exceptions, tiers and contradictory clauses, while residents are demanding simplicity and clarity, with the credible goal of a sustainable City. Why should it take three or four visits with the planning department to define the buildable envelope for a project? It is understandable that after making endless amendments and exceptions to an outdated zoning code the result is a code that is too long, too complicated, convoluted and replete with contradictions.
This makes no sense and at a certain point it becomes necessary to start fresh. Santa Monica is in the midst of doing exactly that – trying to replace a too complex existing code. Los Angeles (30 times larger than Santa Monica) is going through a similar process as Santa Monica, writing a new, and a goal-oriented simplified, zoning code. It is a process open to public scrutiny and will likely result in a simpler code than the one that we, a much smaller city, currently have. We certainly hope that our current process will result in a less cumbersome and clearer code as well. Many have written and spoken to our planning department staff, and Planning Commission, with suggestions to be incorporated into a simplified new code, currently in the ‘redline’ phase wherein changes are made, but they often appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

It should be the City’s goal to create a zoning document that is simple, understandable, and represents the wishes of the residents for uses, density and heights, providing responsible planning regulations while protecting the quality of life. It should do that without requiring multiple meetings with planning staff to verify what is possible and what is not. It is indeed like swatting flies to process a project through our City, with one undefined or unclear issue after another arising just as one believes that the review process is complete. It seems like those who most benefit from an obscure and complicated code are those most able to utilize lawyers and lobbyists to contort the wording to their advantage. Unfortunately, this generally occurs on larger scale projects where a biased interpretation can have significant negative consequences for those adjacent sites and our community. Meanwhile, the average citizen trying to improve their own home, may be denied some minor request, and are left wondering why the process is so complicated, and how ‘those other projects’ received approval for something seemingly beyond the code.
We appreciate that the City’s re-writing of the zoning ordinance is a difficult process. It would be made much simpler if there were fewer exceptions, special cases, and other methods that allow exceeding the basic limits of height, use and density. For example, SMa.r.t.’s position is that a simple 30/40/50 foot maximum height limit be applied to residential/boulevard/downtown districts. This would be a clear and concise way to regulate heights that requires no further explanation. If the Code requirements continue to be merely a “suggestion”, rather than a requirement, zoning interpretation will remain as convoluted and complex as it has been in the past, and where those with money and connections will continue to find ways to circumvent the intent of the City’s Ordinances.
We remain concerned that the only significant changes being made to the zoning code are increased heights and increased density, benefiting only those special interests’ bottom line. We would love to be wrong.

Bob Taylor, AIA, for SMa.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)
Ron Goldman FAIA, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Daniel Jansenson Architect, Thane Roberts AIA, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Samuel Tolkin AIA, Armen Melkonians Civil & Environmental Engineer, Phil Brock Chair, Parks & Recreation Commission. For previous articles, see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

ARLINGTON WEST RECEIVES COMMENDATION FROM MAYOR

Veterans for Peace, volunteers and supporters, were
awarded a commendation from the City of Santa Monica on
the eleventh anniversary of Arlington West Mayor Kevin McKeown presented the award at the Santa Monica Beach site of the installation, which commemorates the human costs and consequences of war.

Virtually every Sunday at dawn for eleven years, dedicated volunteers have installed rows of hand-fashioned wooden crosses, stars of David, and crescents in the sand in a configuration resembling the Arlington National Cemetery, the nation’s burial place of honor for war heroes.

Families and friends of the fallen adorn many of the markers with photos, notes and things. The volunteers have become devoted stewards of these mementos, carefully preserving them and positioning them on the markers, which are set up in the sand at dawn and taken down at dusk.

Receiving the commendation at the memorial on Sunday from the mayor were Michael Lindley, Ed Ellis, and Kathleen Hernandez, who have been part of Arlington West from the start, McKeown said that their “volunteer commitment over eleven years has done Santa Monica a great service, providing an inspiring place for visitors from all over
the world to remember, to grieve, to comfort each other, and to learn.”

As the number of casualties of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan grew, Arlington West grew, too, covering a larger and larger portion of the beach on the north side of the Santa Monica Pier.

Mementos now numbering in the thousands placed by families and friends of the adorn many of the markers. Members of Volunteers for Peace and volunteer supporters are devoted stewards of these photos, souvenirs, and heartfelt written notes, carefully preserving them and placing them on the markers, which are set in the sand at dawn and taken down at dusk.

Presenting the commendation at the memorial on Sunday to Michael Lindley, Ed Ellis, and Kathleen Hernandez, who have been with Arlington West from the start, Mayor McKeown told the dozen Veterans for Peace members and volunteer supporters who were present that their “volunteer commitment over eleven years has done Santa Monica a great service, providing an inspiring place for visitors from all over the world to remember, to grieve, to comfort each other, and to learn.”

As the number of casualties of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has grown over the years, so too has Arlington West, and, from the start, Arlington West it has documented the deaths and injuries, military and civilian, on both sides, fulfilling its mission to measure the human costs of military action.

Every Sunday for 11 years, the volunteers have set up Arlington West at dawn, tended it all day, welcomed visitors from all over the globe, and taken it down at dusk. More volunteers are always welcome. People who would like to help. should contact Ed Ellis at ehe3@msn.com or call (323) 934-3451.

For more information about Arlington West Santa Monica, Veterans for Peace, and the human costs of war visit: www.arlingtonwestsantamonica.org

CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH ESO WON BOOKS

Eso Won Books features the largest collection of African American books in the region and is a landmark in the Crenshaw community.

As Black History Month is celebrated in February, now’s a great time to check out Eso Won Books www.esowonbookstore.com.

Video Spotlight: Watch this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZivnlH6G8U.
Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw to win $1,000!

Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw encourages the support of Crenshaw-area businesses and events…it can also help you win $1,000!

Here’s how it works. From your cell phone, submit photos of receipts from participating businesses to www.metro.net/eatshopplay to be entered to win cash prizes. It’s that easy!

Click the website for details.

6:30am – 7pm (Monday – Friday)
8:00am – 4:30pm (Saturday/Sunday)

Stay Connected

FIRST WORKSHOP ON LINC PLAN IS MONDAY, FEB. 23

Dear Neighbors,

At long last, we can happily announce the first City workshop for the LiNC Plan, under the direction of Peter James, Special Projects Administrator, Planning & Community Development: February 23, at 6:30 PM at John Muir/SMASH Auditorium (2525 5th Street).

You will be amazed at the concepts to be presented by the City Staff and the consultants. Remember, your opinion expressed in the Lincoln Blvd. Task Force (LBTF) survey guided much of what you will see. The LBTF created a “wish list” that we gave to City Staff. Then, we asked for your opinion, which counted heavily in the development of the LiNC Plan. The event will have presentations by three teams focusing on: Streetscape, Transportation, and Business Improvement.

Please mark you calendar for this important event and don’t forget to RSVP to Peter James (peter.james@smgov.com) to ensure an accurate refreshment count.

And, be sure to visit www.lincsm.net to sign up for project notifications and to get important details on how you can follow/voice your opinion of the Plan on Facebook and Twitter, plus take the MindMixer survey (links below).

It has been three years since the formation of the LBTF. Our first efforts were to attack the visual blight with cooperation from Code Compliance, as well as the three LBTF Clean Ups. Murals by Beautify Lincoln added a fresh look that sparked interest by businesses to improve their appearance. The support from neighborhood associations (OPA, FOSP and PNA) and volunteers like yourself, helped to make it all happen. Our before and after pictures illustrate a dramatically changed street.

Also, let us know if you can volunteer and assist the LBTF Steering Committee in evaluating the concepts presented. We will have sign-up sheets at the workshop and would be happy to discus how you might get involved in changing “stinkin’ Lincoln” into a boulevard that is neighborhood friendly and something we can all be proud of.

See you on February 23 at the LiNC Plan workshop!

Roger Swanson
Chair, LBTF

Workshop Invitation: http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/PCD/Plans/Streetscapes/Envision-Lincoln/linc_workshop_invite(1).pdf
Website: http://www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/Plans/Streetscapes/Lincoln-Neighborhood-Corridor-Plan-%28LiNC%29/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lincsm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LiNC_SM
Mind Mixer Survey: http://lincsm.mindmixer.com
Oct. 1, 2015 LiNC Plan presentation to Planning Commission: http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/PCD/Plans/Streetscapes/Envision-Lincoln/PC.LiNC.10.1.14.pdf

The Ocean Park Association
www.opa-sm.org

“Like” us on Facebook

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J.J. ABRAMS GETTING INTO L.A. POLITICS VIA SANTA MONICA

LAObserved story

Star Wars Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, are hosting a Santa Monica fundraiser for Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who is a candidate for the open City Council seat in South LA’s 8th district in the March
3 primary. The seat is open because longtime Councilman Bernard Parks is being termed out. The Hollywood Report-
er’s Tina Daunt notes this is a rare foray of Hollywood Democratic activists into local LA politics.

Though Hollywood recently has taken a stronger interest
in Los Angeles’ mayoral races, it’s extremely rare for
its politically active figures to take a hand in a city council election. Abrams and McGrath, however, are two
of the most active among the entertainment industry’s younger coterie of Democratic activists and have acqui-
red a reputation for being shrewd spotters of political talent.


They were, for example, early supporters of State Attor-
ney General Kamala Harris, who now is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Barbara Boxer. The 8th District, where incumbent Bernard Parks—the for-
mer police chief—is termed out, is one of Los Angeles’
most interesting, as it encompasses the two most afflu-
ent majority black census tracts in America.

The Harris-Dawson fundraiser is set for the evening of
Feb. 27 at Abrams’ Bad Robot studio in Santa Monica.
Ticket prices range from $250 to $700. Rep. Karen Bass,
the former California Assembly Speaker and Harris-Daw-
son mentor as founder and ex-head of the Community Coalition, also will be on hand.

Before you ask — no, Abrams and McGrath don’t live any-
where near the 8th district. I’m told they reside in Pacific Palisades. At least that is in the city of Los Angeles.

CAPITAL& MAIN: MUST READING

Our chum, Danny Feingold, is now Publisher of CAPITAL
& MAIN, a very cool blog, which is currently running
a month-long series on the “State of Inequality.”

(http://capitalandmain.com//?home-2).

The Dispatch has run and will continue to run articles
from CAPITAL & MAIN, but, readers can, of course, go directly to the blog. You’ll find it very informative, often enlightening.

Herewith, a sample.

“The tycoons of Silicon Valley are remaking California
in their own image. As author and veteran Guardian cor-
respondent Andrew Gumbel writes in Capital & Main’s State of Inequality series, the implications of that fact are troubling.

“In San Francisco, the crown jewel of the tech empire,the
consolidation of wealth has become so extreme that the city ranks somewhere between Rwanda and Guatemala in its level of economic inequality. Those at the top of the heap are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund their social agendas. In Silicon Valley, tech billionaires can — and do — literally outspend local governments.

“Not since the Age of the Robber Barons have business leaders held so much personal power over social policy.
As then, not all of the spending of the new plutocrats
is socially regressive. But when a small group super-rich people are able and willing to circumvent the traditional political process by flooding the social landscape with money, there are profound risks to democracy even when the intentions are good. And the intentions, of course,are
not always good.”

Read and share Gumbel’s new article in Capital & Main. Other pertinent articles are:

“The One Percenters: How a Handful of California Power
Brokers Work To Further Inequality“ By Bill Raden.

“Navigating Serious Cracks In Health Care Coverage,”
By Gary Cohn.

Copyright © 2015 Capital & Main, All rights reserved.

Capital & Main
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
464 Lucas Ave., Suite 202
Los Angeles, CA 90017

ATTEND TONIGHT’S PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING, SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR NEIGHBORHOODS

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Residents:

Northeast Neighbors Continues to Protect Mid City.

The following letter was sent to the Planning Commission
by Northeast Neighbors. Mid City has two Expo stations, one at 26th and Olympic (technically in the Pico Neigh-borhood but impacting Mid Neighbors), and the Memorial
Park Station.

From: Amy Aukstikalnis
The Board of Northeast Neighbors

To: Santa Monica Planning Commission and Staff.
Subject: NEN Comments re 2/18/15 Planning Commission Meeting. Agenda Item 8A – Redline ZOU Div III Parking

Dear Planning Commissioners and Staff:

Thank you for all your hard work to date and responsiveness to input from the community.

The Board of Northeast Neighbors supports the change in the Redline that requires relatively more parking further away from the Expo Light Rail line, in particular along Wilshire Blvd, and less parking within close proximity to Expo Light Rail stops. The Planning Commission directed staff to make this change last March and we appreciate this direction and support this change in the Redline ZOU.

Additionally, The Board of Northeast Neighbors requests that you consider the following comments and recommendations for changes to the Redline ZOU during your discussion of parking standards (Chapter 9.28):

1. Add language to the Purpose statement that addresses concerns of residents regarding the need for protections from spillover parking (9.28.010 F, III-66). While we appreciate the restoration of language providing for the protection of the neighborhoods from vehicle noise and traffic, we request that the purposed statement also address the need to prevent spillover parking.

This can be achieved by inserting the phrase “spillover parking” as follows into section 9.28.010F of the Redline (III-66):

“To protect neighborhoods from the effects of vehicular noise, spillover parking and spillover traffic generated
by uses in adjacent non-residential districts…

2. Request that Staff provide clarification and context for the new language added to the purpose statement that reads “..and ensure adequate infrastructure to improve circulation.” Who introduced this language? It is un-
clear what this means and would be helpful if Staff
could provide context and examples before this change is approved. We would like to know if this refers to the
map of Proposed Mixed Use Transportation Districts (Attachment C) and two bus stops that have been labeled “High Frequency Transit Stops” that are not part of the Expo line.

3. Remove consideration of bus stops as the basis for identifying Mixed Use Transportation Districts. It is unclear why bus stops have been added as the foundation
for two new Mixed-use Transportation zones. Who proposed this change? And why? When and by whom was the decision made to expand be-yond the areas serviced by Expo stations?

4. Unbundled Parking should not be required for all projects throughout the City. (9.28.110 B1) The Expo is not yet in place and it is unclear how successful it will be at mitigating the need for cars and traffic. Until
this is known, unbundling should be voluntary and explored only on an experimental basis.

5. Prohibit residents of developments with “Unbundled Parking” from obtaining Preferential Parking Permits for the surrounding residential neighborhood. To prevent spillover of traffic and parking onto neighborhood streets, the new zoning standards must include an ordinance that makes residents of developments with unbundled parking permanently ineligible for preferential parking permit programs in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
This is currently absent from the draft standards and
must be added. Unbundling will fail to reduce automobile dependence and car trips if residents of these buildings have alternative parking options readily available on
local neighborhood streets.

6. Add a qualifier to section 9.28.020B3 that makes
clear that any excess parking created by the
parking standards may not be used to convert existing
space to a more intensive use.

7. Provide direction regarding driveways and alleys, to permit existing driveways to be maintained if a single family (R1) property is remodeled. (9.28.120B3 Alley Access, III-86) Currently, there is a process that al-
lows for street-connected driveways to be kept in all R1 neighborhoods, not just north of Montana Ave. In the current zoning, alley access to parking is only required
in multi-family districts, not single family or R1 districts (see 9.04.10.070 and 080 of the current zoning code). Consequently, single family properties should be exempt from the alley access requirement advanced in the Redline. Or alternatively, a waiver process should be included in the green-line that allows existing driveways to be maintained even if the homeowner does a modest remodel or has a garage off an alley.

Removing the additional off-street parking offered by existing driveways would have the unintended consequence
of discouraging the construction of second units. These driveways have historic character and their preservation would be supportive of city’s new policies regarding “granny flats” in single family neighborhoods by provid-
ing flexible to meet the additional off-street parking requirements.

8. Require that shared parking permit decisions of the Director be mailed to property owners and residents with-
in 1,000 feet of the parcel and to the associated neighborhood association. Shared parking arrangements
along Wilshire, for both purely commercial and mixed-use applications, could significantly impact the surrounding neighborhood if the shared parking location is less convenient than parking in the residential neighborhood
or results in more traffic in the neighborhood. Consequently, a larger radius of residents than proposed
by staff should be notified of the change. Additionally, the notice should include any hearing or appeals process information. (9.28.180C4c, III-100)

9. Make clear in section 9.28.070 that under no circum-stances may subterranean parking be joined or combined across parcels in varying districts. Chapter 9.21.040 clearly outlines when a parcel falls within more than one zoning district that the regulations applicable to each district apply to the corresponding district areas. This needs to be applied both above and below ground level.

Thank your for your consideration of these comments and your service to our community.

Sincerely,

The Board of Northeast Neighbors

City Clerk – Please include this letter in the public record for the 2/18/2015 Planning Commission Agenda
Item 8A.

Sent to: Planning Staff, Planning Commissioners,
City Council members.

Sent to residents by Stacy Dalgleish
Vice President and Communications Officer
Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors (SMMCN)

NOTE: When the LUCE was on its way to approval, then-Planning Director Eileen Fogerty said,
“96 percent of Santa Monica won’t be affected
by the LUCE.” Her successors seem bent on betray-
ing her.

CITY HALL SHOULD STOP TALKING, START LISTENING

We’re only a couple of clicks beyond the 2014 election, and
residents find are already engaged in several battles with City Hall.

Next Tuesday, City staff will ask the City Council to okay an unprecedented steep increase in the price of water to property owners. Word of the proposal has already churned many residents to the boiling point.

And the state-mandated revision of the zoning code is four
years behind schedule, because the Planning staff persists in playing tricks on the Planning Commissioners –ignoring some of the changes they want while arbitrarily making changes they don’t want.

Meant to reflect and make manifest the LUCE principles,the
new downtown specific plan was unaccountably put on hold a few years ago. It’s faded to a dim memory now, and has left vital questions – i.e., height limits – in limbo.

Residents were outraged when they discovered that the staff had quietly and arbitrarily designated a number of “oppor-tunity sites,” on which developers would have more latitude
to violate standards and ignore basic rules with a wink and a nod (and the tacit approval) of the powers-that-were.

The City spent $8 million on new bus stop “furniture,” which was almost universally reviled by residents.The Big Blue Bus crew reacted by going into an extended pout.

Recently, the City proposed that it build an addition to our dazzling Streamline Moderne City Hall.The addition —
a large, plain rectangular box – would be located behind the existing building, and would house City employees who
are now scattered all over Santa Monica in spaces the City rents. It would be designed by Frederick Fisher, who re-
habbed Annenberg Beach House. The cost: $40 million.

According to City staff, the addition would be the City’s “go to” center, the place where residents could get the paperwork they needed – permits, licenses, passports and the like. Confined to the blank block, the permit seekers wouldn’t bother the “important” people, the senior staff people, the policy-makers whose offices are in City Hall.

Residents could go directly into the “go to” center, get
in line, see the clerk they were told to see and leave –without ever seeing the architectural masterwork that is the City Hall.

The very good news is that voters literally cleaned house. The new Council majority consists of four people who don’t take campaign contributions from developers, as their pre-
decessors did, and who cheerfully describe themselves as “slow growthers.”

Mayor Kevin McKeown, Mayor-pro-tem Tony Vazquez, and mem-
bers Ted Winterer and Sue Himmelrich have the last word, have already used it, and are just warming up.

Like an ever-increasing number of residents, the four are naturally allied with Residocracy, a form of direct demo-
cracy devised by Armen Melkonians, a civil and environmen-
tal engineer, which gives residents veto power. It was initially used with stunning effect a year ago to rescind the previous Council’s approval of the misbegot Hines pro-
proposal. Residents had opposed it from its inception as
it had too few affordable apartments and too many office spaces and would dump 7500 additional daily car trips into an already snarled area.

A couple of years ago, the former majority of four mounted a thoroughly cuckoo “choose civility” campaign aimed at residents, even as they continued to ignore residents’ utt-
erly reasonable protests, and pander shamelessly to the developers.

Happily, that unfortunate era ended abruptly on November 4, and a new era is underway.

Russell Baker, one of the New York Times’ fabled column-
ists, who began his career at the Baltimore Sun, wrote a brilliant column about the difference between serious and solemn. In his view, the Beatles were serious, and the Rolling Stones were solemn. Bridge was solemn, Poker was serious. Serious was the real thing.Solemn was merely pretentious.

Here and now, Santa Monica is serious, its residents are serious, and the majority of four – McKeown, Vazquez, Winterer and Himmelrich — is utterly serious. City Hall should bloody well stop talking and start listening.

ARTHUR MILLER’S “THE PRICE” OPENS AT MARK TAPER SAT.

Legendary playwright Arthur Miller’s family drama “The Price” opens this Saturday, February 21. at 8 p.m. at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum and will continue through March 22.

Directed by Tony Award-winner (“The Beauty Queen of Leenane”) Garry Hynes, this poignant story about the cost of choices made over a lifetime features Kate Burton, John Bedford Lloyd, Alan Mandell and Sam Robards.

Two brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in 16 years come together to settle their late father’s estate. Victor (played by Sam Robards), a police officer of 28 years, his brother, Walter (John Bedford Lloyd), a successful surgeon, and Victor’s wife, Esther (Kate Burton), gather in the attic of the family’s New York brownstone, where they are met by Solomon, a wise and wily antiques dealer (Alan Mandell). It is not only years of accumulation of family belongings that need sorting out, but also the hidden motives that long ago fractured the brothers’ relationship.

601 West Temple St., Los Angeles, 213.972.7376 FAX: 213.972.0746, CenterTheatreGroup.org

FORMER STUDENT ASKS SCHOOL BOARD TO RESTORE FUNDING FOR ROP FILM CLASSES

Hello, SMMUSD Board Members: Jose Escarce, Laurie Lieb- erman, Craig Foster, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein,Oscar
de la Torre, Ralph Mechur and Marie Leon-Vazquez

My name is Felicia and I graduated from SAMOHI in 2003. I am asking that you revisit your vote on defunding ROP classes and fund the SAMOHI ROP film classes. Unlike many of the art and music classes that are a part of the regular curriculum, ROP classes are accessible to all students, there is no testing or ranking system to place in these classes, everyone has equal access to these classes. The film classes are especially inviting to a diverse group of students because each student gets to explore their own personal interests through film. For example, when we were required to make a documentary on a subject that interested us, some students chose political issues, other chose art or sports, where as others chose deeply personal biographies.No other class allows students to learn about their own interests like the film classes do.

Before I found the film program I was a troubled teen, getting myself into all sorts of bad situations, I was even suspended from High School on a drug-related charge. My life changed significantly when I discovered Mr. Wishart’s class room. The film classes gave me purpose and an outlet, I was able to explore teenage angst through my film projects, the whole process was very therapeutic! In addition to our class projects, we were constantly being commissioned, by other teachers and school officials to create videos for the various functions during the school year. Although we provided this service free of charge, I lept at the opportunity because each project gave me a sense of purpose and kept me out of trouble. In addition to teaching me the value of volunteerism, these projects also taught me valuable workplace skills, experiences that are not available in regular classrooms. I remember making promotional videos for Barnum Hall’s renovation, Grad Nite, the alumni association and countless other videos for the school. Who will make these videos if the film class does not? The cost to hire a professional would far exceed Mr. Wishart’s salary.

Mr. Wishart is the film program, it is his teaching that makes these courses so memorable to all the students. I never felt like an adult truly cared about my well being as much as Mr. Wishart did. Everything he does is for his students, he lives and breathes this program. The film program does not just function within regular school hours, it also requires “lab hours” after school, I doubt Mr. Wishart was ever paid for this additional time, but he always did it with a smile.

I am now a successful Television Producer with hit shows on ABC and other cable networks, I can say without a doubt Mr. Wishart helped shape my career. We must find a solution. I am not familiar with the SMMUSD financial situation, but I know eliminating the entire film program is not the solution. While we figure out funding solutions, the students should not be deprived of this wonderful program or its brilliant teachers like Mr. Wishart.

Thank you for listening.

Felicia Aaron White