The “jewels” in The Civic Center Plan
To the editor:
The Civic Center is the “Jeweled Crown” of our city, we should treat it as such.
My support for the Civic Center Specific Plan is based upon my respect for the 15-year process of community involvement in the plan. My involvement in community meetings early in the process and awareness of key issues at that time. My respect and validation for specific group interests. My experience and understanding of the purpose of the elements of the overall plan. My appreciation for the quality and balancing-of-interests of the resulting plan.
In particular: The Soccer Field “Emerald” was added as a result of strong resident support before the Planning Commission.
From the beginning, Santa Monicans for Renters’ (and Residents’) Rights, (of which I am a proud member) and other affordable housing advocates urged a significant affordable housing “Tiara” element to the plan. After many meetings and analyses, and with Council direction, the revised size, height limits and configuration, has an in-scale complimentary attitude, rising higher only next to the existing Hotel.
Many voices, mine included, supported the Palisades Park transition and the improvement of the Ocean and Colorado “Topaz” intersection and transition to the Civic Center open space. Thus, the partial freeway decking, landscaping, creation of the “Jade” Palisades Garden Walk, and efforts to reduce the pedestrian/traffic bottleneck.
The Olympic Center Drive “Garnet” extension improves traffic flow, would help reduce traffic on Pico and Colorado, and could be dead-ended for no-through traffic if overused.
The open space/view corridor/ will create a special “Ruby” park area for public gatherings, myriad leisure uses, and additional pedestrian use
The additional “Amethyst” bridge across the freeway for vehicles will permit the existing “Malachite” bridge to be a pedestrian-only connection to the Promenade.
The new “Onyx” City Services Building will be no higher than the existing City Hall “Diamond”; it is in-scale, providing needed office space for improved service to all users of city resources.
The Early Childhood “Sapphire” Center will provide support for users citywide.
The Civic Auditorium “Golden Nugget” now a Landmark, scheduled for upgrading, will expand and continue to be a major venue for events.
Removal of SM Place from the Plan, upon a unanimous vote, with staff agreement, will be considered on its own merits or lack thereof .
Laurel Roennau is correct: the traffic analysis of the EIR is suspect. Meaningful mitigation measures are required: shuttle, tram, moveable sidewalks, re-routing of bus/truck paths combined with a light-rail terminus nearby. The overriding benefits to our residents/visitors do not justify rejection of the complete plan based on a negative and partially mitigatable traffic impact.
I agree with Commissioner Darryl Clarke’s always thoughtful analysis. Hopefully, these Planning Commission recommendations to our City Council will inspire other residents/visitors to make their “nuggets” of advice known to the city council for the final “Jeweled Crown” Plan. Tell them what you think is wrong, we can fix it together.
The vast majority of those of us who spend countless hours serving voluntarily on city boards and commissions, especially our councilmembers, do so with strong opinions based on committment to our principles, logic, experience, and dedication to improving the quality of life for everyone.
We frequently debate, publicly, and confront city staff (as they do to each other within City Hall) in the give and take of the decision-making process.
Leave the “Yes-men” (“yes-persons”?) to George Bush and Arnold Swartzenegger, it is tough to find them in our Santa Monica, Darryl and I are certainly not among them.
Jay Johnson, Planning Commissioner
Waste of money
To the editor:
Your editorial “Giving and Taking” about the new library, was brilliant — as usual.
Spending $85,000 to promote the new library is absurd. I could see putting a banner up on Wilshire announcing its opening, but other than that, it’s a waste of money.
Caroline Jacobs, Santa Monica
City’s mixed up priorities
Mayor O’Conner and Council Members
City of Santa Monica
Affordable housing, affordable housing, affordable housing! This mantra is sung endlessly by the City to justify increases in building density and intolerable traffic. But out of the other side of the city staff mouth comes an outrageous proposal for increases in City service and utility rates.
Who pays for utilities? Residents! Are not utilities a housing cost? Shouldn’t the City be doing everything possible to reduce every cost of living in Santa Monica in order to make housing affordable? Has anyone considered what an increase does to the housing affordability of senior citizens on fixed incomes? On families?
Wouldn’t true enlightenment be expressed in free utilities? Free water. Free solid waste disposal. Free sewer usage. Free storm drains. Free street sweeping. All of these are within the power of the City to effect. And the City could go even further by negotiating lower rates with the electric, gas, telephone and cable companies or subsidizing its own residents’ usages. These are creative approaches to ensuring affordable housing.
The staff claims that the utilities are costing the City more than is collected by those programs. This is a seriously flawed analysis. On the one hand, the staff makes a case for every pot sitting on its own bottom, pay as you go, every service funded by its own fees. And yet, it freely charges the cost of programs that have no other sources of income to the utilities. In the cold math that dictates an existence being justifiable only if can support itself, there is no place for free rides.
How can you possibly consider using the utility rates as the cash cow to pay for unrelated programs? Of course, many programs are worthwhile. But who ordains that they be paid by dunning residents by way of their utility bills?
I believe we need a serious overhaul of the way public resources are used and misused. A council that casually throws $85,000 on a completely unnecessary PR campaign for the opening of our new library can hardly be called fiscally responsible. (There are more questions about this ridiculous expenditure that should be examined — such as whether there was competitive bidding, but they are off my topic of the day.)
Please put an end to your consideration of any increase in City service and utility rates.
Geraldine Kennedy, Homeowner and Former Planning Commissioner
It starts with the children
To the editor:
As I shop for preschools, I am shocked by the fact that over 120 million kids around the world don’t go to school because their family can’t afford the fees.
It often costs less than $50 a year, which seems like nothing to me when preschool is $1,000 a month. But $50 is totally unaffordable for many families in poor parts of the world, and it’s a major barrier for girls, AIDS orphans, and other vulnerable children.
In 2004, Congress created a pilot project with $15 million to help countries that eliminate school fees scale up to provide for millions more children.
In 2005, we need to continue our help. We are a rich and blessed nation. Education is the first tool in spreading democracy and freedom. To open children’s minds, we need to make sure this pilot project is increased.
Urge your Congressperson to support new legislation on Orphans and Vulnerable Children with a strong focus on education access, eliminating school fees, and increasing overall funding for international basic education.
It is for all of us, and it starts with the children.E McKenzie, Santa Monica