Looking at the facts
To the editor:
In last week’s Mirror, Councilmember Katz stated that the plan for the redevelopment of Santa Monica Mall will proceed “publicly, transparently, honestly.” We hope so. But if it does proceed that way, it will be in spite of the city and developer’s efforts, not because of them.
Let’s look at the facts.
Recently, Santa Monica residents had to sue their own city in order to get it to release public documents — that’s right, public documents — about the City/developer negotiations which resulted in the first proposal. These negotiations, which had been held secretly (the opposite of transparently) for two years, resulted in a massive, high-density proposal which met widespread resident opposition and would have had disastrous impacts on downtown traffic and its environment.
Last week a Superior Court compelled the city to stop fighting its own residents and turn over these and other public documents. Apparently, the city will only proceed “publicly and transparently” if it is forced to by a court.
As for “honestly,” one only need read the developer commissioned/city-approved survey of Santa Monica residents to question that. In a stunning coincidence, the survey results showed that in spite of what residents seem to say at community meetings, they apparently want exactly what the developer wants (See Macerich’s advertisement in last week’s Mirror). How could that be? Perhaps it’s because the survey only asked about the positive attributes of a new mall. Questions about the known trade-offs of a larger development were nowhere to be found. Respondents were queried if they wanted fine dining, offices and residences, but were not asked if they would want those things if that resulted in a larger development which would increase area traffic. It was development without consequences.
Like food without calories.
Indeed, the word “traffic,” a key concern of most residents, was never even mentioned in the “survey.”
Those that commissioned the survey were so afraid of it revealing anything negative that questions about possible new building heights did not even mention possible new building heights. That’s right, while you and I might think about building heights in terms of “stories” or feet, the “survey” never mentioned those clear terms, only asking residents to compare possible new building heights to other existing buildings in Santa Monica, such as the “historic clock tower building” (Whatever that is).
And in an advertisement printed the same day as Councilmember Katz’s letter, the developer claims that according to their survey, residents also want underground parking at the new mall. But their survey neglected to mention that the city will probably be asked to pay for this cost, which could be between $60 and $100 million. Would residents have said they wanted underground parking if they knew the costs they were being asked to pick up?
And while we’re being honest, let’s talk about that underground parking we’ll probably be paying for. How many additional spaces would we get for our money, anyway? Since the developer wants to include offices and residential buildings in their redevelopment, how many new parking spaces, paid for by Santa Monicans, would be reserved for those private tenants? When one subtracts that reserved parking, along with the amount of parking currently provided by the existing structures, would residents get ANY additional spaces for their investment? Could we actually end up with LESS public parking?
Objective questions, framed with actual real world trade-offs, would have resulted in honest and usable results.
We don’t yet know what the developer’s new proposal for Santa Monica Place will be. What we do know is that Santa Monicans own twenty percent of the site’s land (the city-owned parking structures) and so must be real partners in any decisions. Developer advertisements with families laughing and headlines boasting how many residents responded to their meaningless survey won’t cut it. What residents need is true transparency and honesty and real public participation.
Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City
The city responds
To the editor:
This is in response to Mr. Berkin’s letter: “Why Isn’t SM More Like LA!” in the Santa Monica Mirror, July 20 – 26, 2005.
The City of Santa Monica’s Solid Waste Management Division makes every attempt to continually inform our customers concerning our refuse and recycling services, including the holiday collection schedule. The holiday collection schedule is posted on the City’s website at www.smgov.net, Refuse & Recycling Services, and has appeared in the City’s newsletter, Seascape, that is mailed to every household throughout the City.
Customers may call Solid Waste at (310) 458-2223 for collection schedules and other information, and the holiday collection schedule is also available, after-hours, on the Solid Waste telephone message system.
Generally, the City of Santa Monica does not collect refuse/recycling on the major holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday in January), Presidents’ Day (the third Monday in February), Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day (the first Monday in September), Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November), and Christmas Day (December 25).
When a customer’s normally scheduled collection day falls on one of these holidays, collection will occur instead on the next day. For example: if your normal collection day falls on a Monday, refuse/recyclables are collected on Tuesday.
The City distributes separate green waste collection containers to all single family households in order to divert this valuable resource from the landfill. When a customer sets out a green waste container that is contaminated with non-green waste materials, the entire contents of the container may, unfortunately, need to be mixed with the regular trash. Such an action will not be taken, however, until after the customer has been notified that they have placed improper materials into the green waste container. Solid Waste staff is very serious about all of our waste diversion programs and constantly strives to minimize the amount of waste that must be transported to a landfill for disposal. We value the continued participation of all our customers and want to make sure that the service they receive is of the highest quality.
We will work to revise our outreach efforts in response to the concerns raised by Mr. Berkin. Thank you for bringing them to our attention.
Solid Waste Operations Manager
Solid Waste Management Division
2500 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
seek L.A. homes
To the editor:
I would like to take this time to applaud the local families who opened their homes to international exchange students. It is the time of year when schools are out and families take a moment to pause and consider not only the year past, but also the year to come.
Students from Brazil, Germany, South Korea, and Norway had been staying with these families since last August. And now August approaches again; the time where past students will be replaced by record numbers of new students from as many as thirty-five different countries.
All this is made possible by the support and care of local volunteers working for Pacific Intercultural Exchange (P.I.E.). Volunteers serve as mentors to the students throughout the school year. They help by first interviewing the potential families. Once the students arrive, they meet with the families, students, and the schools once a month, either in person or by telephone, to help them adjust to one another. At the same time, the volunteers develop friendships with the students that can last a lifetime.
More volunteers in the community are desperately needed to help with the new arrivals. Those who are interested are urged to contact me (Cindy Knight) right away at (866) 234-9923. Experience is not necessary, as training will be provided.
Many thanks to all the families for a great year, and thanks in advance for the wonderful families to come.
To the editor:
Please don’t let a sheep in wolf’s clothing replace Mrs. O’Connor as Supreme Court Justice.
We deserve to have concrete answers to questions regarding Roberts’ suitability to serve. We would like to know the facts, not the spin.
To the editor:
Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove, or Turd Blossom as Bush affectionately calls him, have acted in the conniving, arrogant way that has traditionally been the Republican M.O. – to skirt the law and place themselves above it (see Richard Nixon, Oliver North). Why? Because Joe Wilson dared to tell the truth which has since been proven by the 9/11 Commission and the Downing Street papers.
Their covert actions against Joseph Wilson in retaliation for his NY Times editorial were not only dangerous and destructive, they were anti-American. At once, they put the life of a CIA agent and her contacts in jeopardy, but even more so, they put the lives of all Americans in danger by proliferating a lie that helped lead us to pointless war.
That lie has been evidenced by the Downing Street papers. Please be objective and honor your role as an arbiter of responsible journalism. We value freedom of the press as part and parcel to the health of our country and the American way. America needs to know about the introduction of H Res 375 in the House of Representatives and the Bush Administration’s rush to judgment at any cost. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been their peer group that has paid the highest cost, but, ironically, it’s been their constituents.
Kevin LaffeyLos Angeles