Let’s play a game. It’s called: “What should happen?”
First some background. Recently, the Macerich Company proposed a redevelopment of Santa Monica Place that was so big it would have been the square footage equivalent of adding the tallest skyscraper in the West (L.A.’s US Bank Tower) to Santa Monica’s already congested downtown.
Alarmed by this prospect, many residents complained loudly enough that this out-of-scale, high-density proposal, developed with the city in secret, was scrapped. Sort of. Actually, the developer was told to come up with a new plan, this time after holding public meetings to try to convince residents of the merits of an out-of-scale, high-density development. The meetings were supposed to be held to gather residents’ input, but many who attended felt that rather than solicit input, they were designed to sell a type of development they had already said they didn’t want. And so, many people came together to form a residents’ group to ensure that their concerns would be heard.
Okay, now we’re getting to the fun part.
At these public meetings there were sign-in sheets where the hundreds of attendees were encouraged to give their names and contact information before entering.
Don’t forget, these were public meetings, co-sponsored by the city.
And now, let’s play… “What Should Happen?”
A) The contact information should be given only to one side, the developer of this controversial project.
B) It should be given only to the residents’ group so they can contact other attendees who might also be alarmed by what they heard and may want to know that they’re not alone.
C) Since they were public meetings, co-sponsored by the city, anyone should be allowed to know who attended. The developer and the residents’ group should both have access to this contact information.
If you’re Santa Monica city officials, the correct answer to this round of “What Should Happen?”… is “A.” This information should only be given to the developer.
That’s right; city officials believe that only the developer should know who attended these public meetings. Basic fairness, as well as the belief that a city should advocate equally for its residents, would dictate that either no one should have access to this information or both sides should. We’re sure a court would agree, which is why we’re suing the city for these and other public documents.
In the meantime, if you’re worried about the size and scale of this proposed development, the city and the developer don’t want us to know how to find you. So it’s up to you, Santa Monica residents, to find us. Let us know how you feel about this and other issues about the Macerich development by visiting our website at SMCLC.NET. Oh yeah, and if you really want to piss them off, let us know how we can contact you.Victor Fresco is a resident, and a member of the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City.