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The battle for 415 PCH is coming to a crossroads. It’s a shame it now has to be characterized as a battle, yet that is what is happening as the issue now rests with attorneys, the worst possible scenario. Some of my best friends are lawyers, however in business I often find them to be “deal breakers,” because that is often how they are trained. Some find loopholes then drive trucks through them. Others simply go hardball, advocating for their client’s position with no give and take.

Good attorneys offer up solutions, keep people at the table and make workable deals. By all accounts George Mihlsten, the lead attorney from Latham and Watkins who is representing the neighbors near 415 PCH, and City Attorney Marsha Moutrie are at loggerheads due to legal technicalities, not substantial issues. One technicality is the City cannot make an agreement with a small group of individual residents.

If the neighbors are sincere about cooperating with the City then they will find a way to make it work. If the City truly seeks to respect the neighbors’ rights then they will find a way. The key word is cooperating. The residents living next to 415 PCH have every right to be concerned and the City needs to bend over backwards to help them, just as if they were residents in any district in town. This acquisition is too valuable and too special to allow the negotiations to fall apart. At this point a mediator-judge may be required to provide legal guidance. Whatever it takes, it needs to be done.

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Santa Monica is booming. In case you haven’t noticed, our fair city is in the middle of an economic explosion. Hotels are charging their highest prices in years because they have their highest occupancy rates ever. Commercial space has a low vacancy rate with no big blocks of space available, tourism has rebounded strongly, Montana Avenue has filled out and is the classiest street in town, Main Street has expanded north with new coffee shops, eateries and several new soon-to-be mixed-use complexes. Wilshire is robust and energetic and looking very full, auto dealerships are strong with some new showrooms being built and property values have gone through the roof, enriching many homeowners in town.

Of course economic expansion is often uneven. Lincoln Blvd. is still a mess with traffic conditions eroding and little attention being put into improvement. Pico Blvd. near the College should be a boomtown with student and community-serving facilities, but the college appears separate and apart from the area and the business district around it is seeking a stronger identity. Ocean Park has had no major renovation in years, despite its clearly neighborly feel and proximity to one of our best single-family home districts. The Sleek Precinct surrounding the Yahoo Center (previously MGM-Colorado Center) is separate from the surrounding communities and, though mostly full, provides more of a commuter clientele.

The downtown and Promenade gets much of the city’s business development money and attention, yet it is probably the least friendly area to locals. Perhaps a summertime “Local Night on the Promenade” is in order? Half price movies, 2-for-1 meals, family music and entertainment…make it a Wednesday night family night out and bring the locals back.

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I am pleased to say right here and right now that Debra Bowen would be a great Secretary of State. I am slightly biased however as I used to run into Bowen in the old neighborhood and she took a liking to my big Rottweiler (not that she would remember). As a State Assemblyperson and Senator she has proven herself thoughtful, reasoned and an advocate for consumers. Her ethics and credibility are perfect for the Secretary of State office as this is the office that runs our elections.

Former California Governor Jerry Brown is running for state office again, this time as Attorney General against LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Normally I like to root for the home team, but Brown is just too great to pass up. I supported him when he ran for President, liked him as governor (despite Malathion spraying) and think he will make a great Attorney General.

Michael Rosenthal


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