February 29, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Opinion: Embracing Change:

“The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change….”— Isaac AsimovChange. Some hate it, some embrace it, but none can avoid it. Take a walk in our mountains and you will see spring with newly budding flowers. Watch your children grow and your parents age. I enjoy watching as the soft morning light evolves into full brightness. Every moment is an opportunity for change. When we established the Santa Monica Mirror at the turn of the last century (1999) our front page story was budgeting for the new Public Safety Facility, now built and safely ensconced behind City Hall. The Water Garden was just finishing up its construction while the Arboretum had not broken ground. RAND hadn’t yet sought to sell its property and build a new facility, now accomplished, and the new city library had not even been contemplated. We did not have traffic calming devices throughout the city and the transit mall was, well, not really much more then it is now, though a lot of money has since been spent on it. In that first year, the City of Santa Monica began a 9-month, $9 million PCH sewer upgrade project that turned into a $22 million, 3-year fiasco. Our coverage of that process taught us about some disturbing attitudes at City Hall. Like maybe they weren’t listening or responding to residents’ requests.Now even City Hall has changed. We have had three City Managers, including the newest P. Lamont Ewell, and a new Fire Chief, Jim Hone. Suzanne Frick, the Planning Director, has left and our City Council saw a power shift with the election of Bobby Shriver. There is an election this fall, and it will be interesting to see if more change occurs on the council, and along with it, new attitudes. Since 1999, the city has spawned new political organizations, most notably Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) and Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC). At the same time, the real political power in town, SMRR, stood forceful as ever, and engineered a College Board that precipitated the departure of SMC President Piedad Robertson. And at SMMUSD, after the upcoming departure of John Deasy, we will soon be employing our third superintendent in five years!When the Mirror began, the big political issue in town was the Living Wage battle that seriously divided the community. Only recently have tempers quieted over it. Mansionization and landmark status continue to be bellwether issues for preserving the unique nature of our community. With the many apartments rising downtown, you are seeing a changing complexion of our city’s central core. St. John’s Health Center has a brand new hospital and is undergoing even greater modernization, including plasma televisions. Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center will be dramatically altered if and when they ever get their orthopaedic wing completed. SMC continues to build. Their most notable new project, the upcoming Madison Theatre, promises to give us a premium performance venue in the center of town. Ironically, even with all this change, the resident population has remained a fairly stable 85,000. This makes us wonder why our city bureaucracy has tripled in the past 15 years to nearly 2,100. With the increase in tourism and our main commercial center, our weekday population can swell to as much as 300,000. On summer weekends, you can add another million bodies. This would create a big impact in any town our size, and it requires additional city money and efforts. The extra expense and added crowds can fuel resident resentment.In the end, none of this is unique to Santa Monica (except that inland communities don’t have hordes of beachgoers). Fighting City Hall is an age-old battle. Competing interests vying for control of a city actually seems rather normal. The struggle in Santa Monica between residents, City Hall, business interests and regional forces will certainly continue. New political battles will be fought, and things will continue to evolve and change. There is still a lot on the drawing board, including what to do with the Civic Center and Santa Monica Place. So, what’s up with the Mirror?The Mirror is changing too. After seven years we felt it was time to renew ourselves. We have redesigned our format to a new, modern, “compact” design, which, we believe, will make the reader’s experience more pleasurable. Our excellent staff will be augmented by new writers and editors. We remain committed to “reflecting the concerns of the community.”One other thing – call us, write us, e-mail us, fax us. If there is something on your mind make sure we know about it. It is only through communication with our readers that we will be able to continue to reflect your concerns. We will do our part in choosing stories, taking positions, writing it all up (as our former editor once said, “a newspaper is like writing history in a hurry”) and giving it to you in a way you can use and enjoy. Thank you for continuing with us on this journey.Michael RosenthalPublisher & Editor

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