How green is our city? Susan Cloke, Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commission Chair, is excited about some new ideas being generated. For City-owned parking lots down at the beach (Pico south) she is envisioning a green space lawned by the same method the Rose Bowl uses to park cars. Sounds like you would hurt that poor grass, but no – the way it is interlaced and supported, the roots never get damaged. Imagine those parking lots, when not in use, as playing fields. I love grass, the color green, playing fields and the idea of pulling up asphalt is always appealing. A demonstration area is being planned for the zone just north of the playground off of Ocean Park. Look for it soon and if you like it tell the City you want more. While we are at it, let’s make sure to create a new hard surface for our roller hockey friends as well.
New Leadership? Ana Jara is the new Co-Chair of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. Jara, at 25, is not quite ready for the job, but you have to admire her self-confidence and willingness to go for it. Jara is young, Hispanic and from the underrepresented Pico Neighborhood where she works empowering youth. She has gone door to door in past political campaigns and now is in the position to effect real change in town. It is a good idea to bring in new leadership to an organization that has been successful in holding its 10,000 voting bloc together for so long.
Will Target be invited to come back to Santa Monica? Mayor Bob Holbrook was overhead saying recently that the Papermate plant on Olympic might be a good place for a Target store. I tend to favor smaller, locally-owned resident-serving businesses, however, I know lots of people who travel far away to go to a Target store, so why not serve our own community with one that will be within walking distance to so many residents. Or, as Councilman Kevin McKeown suggests, perhaps it would be best used for much needed park space. Well, it is the political season, so these two vying candidates can see how it plays out to the public. We will keep you posted.
We have an election coming up in June and again in the fall. It would be good to see Santa Monica get some real turnout this time. The 25 percent voting rate is awful. Of course many think a low turnout in a non-presidential election year will help Mayor Bob Holbrook in his re-election bid. So will the fact that fellow Councilman Bobby Shriver is Holbrook’s co-chair. I feel a little squeamish about that one, since there appears to be a built in conflict of interest there. Can and will Shriver oppose Holbrook on votes before the Council while he is supporting his re-election? Shriver’s endorsement, money and connections would have been enough.
Shriver maneuvered the Council into naming Holbrook mayor during the reelection cycle and himself mayor pro-tempore, despite the fact that, by past precedent, it should be Councilman Kevin McKeown’s turn as mayor when Holbrook’s turn is up. McKeown is also running this year and will undoubtedly receive the SMRR endorsement. With it comes 10,000 votes and $45,000 for mass mailings during the last week of the campaign. Should he win, I think it is only right to give him his due and allow him a turn as mayor. Plus I think he would be a good person to represent us to the world. By the way, have you noticed how much more fit he looks? I have to check into his diet for myself.
Pam O’Connor is the third councilperson running in the fall (with three seats open it seems pretty clear what will happen). O’Connor is up for the top seat at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, but to win it she must be an elected official, so there is a real reason to vote for her. We need all the political muscle we can muster in order to get transit funding for the Westside. Her influence at the MTA may prove critical for us in getting transportation funding for the Expo line and other MTA goodies.
There are several primary races in June that promise to be interesting. The Westside is Democratic-ville, so the primaries often pick our elected officials. The most interesting race is the 41st Assembly seat being vacated by Fran Pavley. The three main contenders are Calabasas Mayor Barry Groveman, Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District President Julia Brownley and activist Kelly Hayes-Raitt. So far the race has been a spirited one with all sides stacking up interesting endorsements. Hayes-Raitt appears to be Hollywood’s choice; actor Martin Sheen was an early endorsee. Brownley gets the union endorsements and the main Democratic Party nods, however the person to watch is Groveman as he has the financial resources to run a strong campaign, plus he has solid institutional endorsements (including our own Mayor Robert Holbrook). All three are credible; all three would serve us well. Since you only get to vote for one, we will help you choose by providing you with our endorsement in a few weeks.
In closing, I’d like to bring up one more topic – homelessness. We have received some of the worst hate mail imaginable excoriating our less fortunate in town. Some are so ugly and full of vitriol we simply cannot print them. For those of you who have positive suggestions, please do not hesitate to share them. For those of you who are just focused on demonizing and hate-filled diatribe, take it somewhere else. Thanks.