TO: Honorable Planning Commissioners
I have lived in Ocean Park for 15 years. I came to the Jan. 4 meeting, but had to leave at 9:35 before Item 11 came up for discussion. I hope you will give careful thought to this letter addressing what I had hoped to say. My views also reflect those of at least 8 or 10 neighbors I have spoken with.
We favor a “managed” or “no net growth” option-something between no growth and the four options presented by staff, all of which increase density and create congestion, noise, and pollution. We want to know the state’s minimum requirements for housing expansion and to have the city work within that framework to manage future growth.
Citizens do not want any net increase in density or height. Therefore, areas of high-density growth need to be balanced with low-density areas, open public space, and trees. Santa Monica has already absorbed more than its fair share of regional density increases. Given our community’s massive traffic and parking problems, it is irresponsible to plan to increase the density without first resolving existing circulation problems.
I urge you to resist the pressure for development, from both within the city council and staff. The lure of increased property tax revenue in the Earthquake Redevelopment Project Area is tempting. However, it is unconscionable to sacrifice the livability of a community out of greed.
We can improve this unique ocean community with parks, public open space (not gardens on roofs as have been suggested by some developers), and sensitivity to the environment. Let’s not destroy our community with impenetrable density and more traffic. Let’s abandon unrealistic plans, such as lining corridor streets with multi-use structures where people presumably will work, shop, and live. The people working there will not be able to afford to live or shop in this high rent district, and the people living there will be unlikely to work in the area. Expensive new housing with high property taxes will gradually phase out middle class residents and business owners.
And lastly, please listen to the citizens in various neighborhoods, rather than to those pressing for more and more development. For example, on Main Street, already an overbuilt area, citizens have repeatedly asked to maintain the existing heights of older buildings (not the allowable heights). Yet the density continues to increase.
In a democracy, a city belongs to its citizens. Those given the power to make decisions have a moral obligation and mandate to honor those citizens and to create a vision for the future that benefits the community as a whole.
Aid for veterans
To the editor:
California has more active residents serving in the military today than any other state. It’s no surprise then, that we have a strong history of supporting our military community. I hope Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer can continue this tradition and provide aid to sick veterans by voting for the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act when it comes to the Senate floor in early 2006.
There are roughly 2.5 million veterans in our state alone. During the years between the Second World War and the Vietnam Conflict California was a major center for military shipbuilding and repair. From 1941 to 1974, for example, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco and its annexed site concentrated on building craft and modifying or repairing naval ships and submarines.
Unfortunately, the military and private shipbuilders used asbestos in ship construction up until the mid 1970s. When inhaled, this material, can cause horrible life-threatening diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Decades later, many veterans are now being diagnosed with these asbestos-related diseases. They face staggering medical bills because their avenues for obtaining compensation are limited. Under the law, veterans exposed during their military service can’t sue their employer, the federal government.
The Senate has a chance this January to finally help these sick veterans, while also aiding all victims who suffer from asbestos-related diseases. When the FAIR Act was considered in the Judiciary Committee, Senator Feinstein, who sits on that panel, worked hard to get this important bill, which would establish a defendant-financed asbestos victims’ trust fund, approved.
The FAIR Act would once and for all pave the way for quick payments to flow to victims, including U.S. veterans exposed during service.
Asbestos litigation has become a sinkhole for almost all of those involved. The courts are inundated with lawsuits and can’t act quickly to help sick victims. Government action is necessary. There are over 730,000 people who have filed lawsuits nationwide. These cases drag on for years and as a result, critical compensation is delayed.
In effect, the FAIR Act would remove the problem from the overloaded courts. By establishing a standard procedure for all those who are sick from asbestos exposure, the FAIR Act would save on administrative costs and ensure that the money would go straight to victims, and not to trial lawyers. And sick veterans would be able to apply for compensation without affecting their current Veterans Administration Benefits.
The VFW and more than a dozen other national veterans’ organizations support this legislation because it is the only solution to the asbestos litigation crisis that will ensure sick veterans receive the compensation they need and deserve.
Brave men and women have answered the call to service in our country and now they deserve our help and support. Senator Feinstein is to be commended for her work on this critical legislation for vets. I urge both Senators Feinstein and Boxer to consider the benefits this legislation will provide to sick veterans and vote yes for the FAIR Act.
Henry H. Wadahara, Past State Commander
California Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars