Dear Friends of SMCLC:
It’s been a busy year for the newly formed Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City and we want to thank you for your support and your enthusiasm which has been crucial to our success.
In April, SMCLC came together with other groups, civic leaders, and residents who were concerned about intensified and unprecedented new construction in Santa Monica, unrelieved traffic congestion, and the lack of responsiveness from our city staff and government about the cumulative impact of all this development on our beautiful city.
Our common goal was to reinvigorate the public process and to expose attempts to ignore residents’ concerns about massive proposed projects and their adverse impact on our traffic and our environment.
We began by organizing community-wide opposition to the Macerich Company’s proposal, expedited by our City Council, to tear down Santa Monica Place and build 1.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space, including three 21-story towers and taxpayer-financed, underground parking.
Our effective opposition to this proposal included making appearances at City Council hearings, writing well-documented letters and articles for local newspapers, exposing the public process as flawed, publishing Open Letters to Council members demanding a real public process, and meeting one-on-one with City leaders to ensure that the project as proposed would not be approved.
Some highlights of our activities, in which many of you participated in the past few months include:
• APRIL – Published the first in a series of open letters to our City Council, demanding a full and fair public review of the Santa Monica Place project, exposing the “spin” that City staff and the developer were putting on the process.
• MAY – Brought a lawsuit in Superior Court to gain access to public documents, including documents about the proposals to redevelop Santa Monica Place that the City had improperly withheld. The Court agreed with us, ordering the City to release the requested documents.
• JUNE – Circulated another Open Letter, signed by a growing number of residents, objecting to a highly biased telephone survey sponsored by the City, but secretly designed by Macerich. SMCLC prepared an accurate and professional critique of the survey, explaining why the survey results were inaccurate and misleading and why they could not be relied upon to justify any Macerich proposal for Santa Monica Place.
• Also in JUNE, appeared before the City Council and requested that Macerich be required to do an up-to-date traffic study of the consequences of any proposed development of Santa Monica Place, and not simply rely on the study in the Environmental Impact Report for the Civic Center Specific Plan. The Council agreed to impose such conditions as part of any future Macerich proposal.
• JULY – Learned that the City intended to schedule minimal and poorly timed public meetings about a new Macerich proposal. The meetings were to be held in the summer when many residents might not be available, thereby diminishing significant public feedback. In another Open Letter signed by even more of you, we demanded a broader and fairer public process in the fall. Ultimately, the City agreed.
• SEPTEMBER – Analyzed the “Opportunities and Challenges Report on the Land-Use Development” for Santa Monica and provided a succinct and well-respected description of the key issues and problems with the report, especially its unrealistic assumptions about growth and its failure to adequately address preservation and adaptive re-use of existing structures.
• OCTOBER – We put forth our views as to the necessary qualifications for the next City Manager, with primary emphasis that the Manager be willing to listen as well as act on residents’ concerns.
All of these SMCLC activities, including the letters you signed, can be found on our website at www.smclc.net under “in the news.” We hope you will log on to our website periodically for information about significant development issues in Santa Monica and SMCLC’s positions about them.
Please also take advantage of our new on-line post office which allows you to send an e-mail from our website to the City and the local press on issues that matter to you.
Next year promises to be another very busy year. We anticipate that Macerich will return soon with a new proposal to redevelop Santa Monica Place; the City will formulate its land-use and traffic plans for the next twenty years; and there still appears to be no satisfactory plan to handle all the traffic that presently strangles our city and will only worsen under approved and proposed development projects. We welcome the arrival of a new city manager and planning director and we look forward to establishing good working relations with both of them in shaping our city’s future.
Recently, we asked you to help us build our e-mail database. Many of you responded with new e-mail addresses of friends and neighbors. This was a great vote of confidence and a way for us to grow our still young resident organization.
We look forward to your continued support in keeping Santa Monica livable. We wish you a happy holiday and we thank you for making our efforts possible.