April 16, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

The Open City: Another View:

There was another night of hemming and hawing (not sawing) on the “hedges” issue in the hallowed chambers of the Santa Monica City Council.

A highlight was the bolt of electricity that passed through the room when, for a few minutes anyhow, everybody thought that big time writer David Mamet was in the room. Mamet had written an essay in the LA Times alleging that the Council was simply trying to raise some revenue with hedge issue. Alas, it was a prank. Someone had submitted Mamet’s name for two minutes of speaking time. It was everybody’s Glengarry Glen Loss, if you will.

Since I’m also a playwright of late, albeit one without Mamet’s star power or mastery of hard adjectives, I’d like to weigh in on what still appears to be at issue: that forcing homeowners to trim their hedges will make Santa Monica feel more “open.”

If the Council really wants to make Santa Monica more open, here are five simple ways that they could accomplish it … without chainsaws.

Lower the Beach Parking Price

It’s no secret that our city owns a jewel: our lovely beaches. Every weekend, regular citizens, “the people” if you will, want to drive to Santa Monica and spend a day at the beach with their families for all of the wonderful benefits it provides, not the least of which is feeling of freedom and openness and connectivity to this earth. Why not shave two bucks off the cost of parking near the beach and let hard-working parents pocket that dough, which they will most likely spend in our city later in the day. Tout the new prices, and make it part of a larger “open city” plan.

Revitalize the Promenade

Those same hardworking people might re-up their passion for hanging around our Promenade if something sensible were done about the free street performers that, unquestionably, bring life to that area. Couldn’t there be some system of reviewing and planning those performances so that they better reflected multicultural music and dance and elevated the entire level of that experience? Understand, I don’t want the current performers excluded. But isn’t there a way to have all that competing blare and eclectic talent look like somebody is paying attention to what goes on down there?

People’s Night at Café Yupeez

Let’s not pretend that Santa Monica doesn’t have a lot of high-end restaurants that, because of their menu prices, are exclusionary in fact and intent. But what if every Tuesday night, people could walk into any of those places and not get the skin peeled off their backs? That night, there would be a simple, clear menu of entrée’s priced such that those who are not producers or actors or captains of industry can sit down, enjoy a nice meal, and still have money left over for their children’s college fund. Heresy? Karl Marx wouldn’t think so. Hey, that’s it! “Karl Marx Night!”

What’s Festive is Fair

Last weekend Santa Monica hosted the Santa Monica Festival, a one-day event featuring an excellent line-up of (see “Promenade”) multicultural performers, events for children, art workshops, and more. The LA Weekly accurately belittled us for doing this once a year, then sending everybody home from a city most can’t afford to live in. So let’s at least have these kinds of celebrations more often, and make sure everybody is invited.

Pier Pressure

The Santa Monica Pier is now responding to what it knows is a problem: The rides are too expensive for working people and their families. They’re offering five-dollar discount coupons, but that may not be enough. It shouldn’t cost somebody’s Dad twenty dollars a pop to put their kids and some of the kid’s friends on a roller coaster for two and half minutes. That simple thrill, like the one you can get looking at the moon over our bay at night from atop the Ferris wheel, should be open to all.

This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz

1) Pope Benedict XVI announced he is

(a) fast-tracking Pope Paul for sainthood.

(b) winding clocks backwards.

(c) forgiving Germany for everything.

2) The Pentagon presented a plan to

(a) draft Boy Scouts.

(b) close 33 military bases.

(c) come up with some kind of plan.

3) Tiger Woods failed to

(a) make the cut on the Byron Nelson.

(b) seal the door to his underground vault.

(c) wash his mink golf pants.

Answer Key

1) (a) “Miracle Grow” is not a “miracle.”

2) (b) Making the U.S. “Fort Vulnerable.”

3) (a) “But, could I still be a ‘saint’?”

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