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Security Cameras on the

Promenade

So now there are video security cameras on the Promenade. Does this bother anyone? We are so used to cameras being a foregone conclusion in private businesses that it seems natural to allow them in our public spaces as well. My video security company was the first to put cameras on our freeways. People were aghast and asked me if they were watching what was going on inside the cars. Fair enough question, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Cameras went on our freeways to help monitor traffic flow in order to keep the freeways moving faster. So no problem there. We also put the cameras on a major hotel in Santa Monica that was eventually used to find the people who murdered the German tourist on Barnard Way several years ago, so those cameras helped in public safety.

As for the cameras on the Promenade and on city streets like they have in New York and London, studies have shown they have been rather ineffective in combating crime. Depending on how smart the system design is, it will be possible to review digital recordings of incidents should they occur. And perhaps if someone is really watching all those cameras on the Promenade and on the Pier (I pity that person), then maybe some crime can be prevented by calling in the Police sooner rather then later. As for deterrence, they will need to put signs up to inform would-be bad guys that they are being videotaped because most people won’t even notice the cameras as they become just part of our regular life. For the record, higher education levels and good job opportunities are the only things that have been shown to lower crime rates.

 

Mall makeover

The Macerich Company has made the decision to drop all housing elements in the remodel/remake of Santa Monica Place. The Santa Monica public company headquartered in the First Federal building on Wilshire Blvd. came to the City with a plan last year that was roundly rejected by residents. Instead of being mall operators they considered being land use developers, but the public was not interested in such density for that location. Now they are faced with what a good remodel should look like. Here is what I would like to see:

From the Third Street Promenade to Colorado, the interior of the mall needs to be redesigned like a pedestrian mall. That means no roof and an open walking route connecting the civic center with the Promenade. Imagine something like Horton Plaza in San Diego where wandering is encouraged, or the Grove with side streets and a small town feel to it.

Open up and expand the entrance on Colorado to be more inviting and less of a secret entrance to the mall.

Include a transit plan to help with traffic flow on what could be an incredibly successful project. Clearly a shuttle bus from outlying parking facilities would help.

Add new state-of-the-art theaters; the mall has the height, the space and the parking.  Perhaps even make space for some cool music venues and live performance theater. Think BB King’s at Universal City Walk.

Bring in local businesses and fewer chain stores. It would be great to use the old Robinson’s space for the return of Bob Burns, Polly’s Pies and Zucky’s. With a Sand and Sea Santa Monica theme there should be encouragement for local vendors to give a local feel. Definitely re-sign Hot Dog on a Stick. The food court has to be part of the package, as it is one of the more popular elements people enjoy.

Have community space included: art galleries, coffee shops, meeting spaces. And please do some greening of the building, including greener entrances, natural materials and less concrete. Add waterfalls, lots of plants and earth elements. Take the stigma of a big boxy mall out of the equation and replace it with a town center feel instead.

There is an incredible opportunity to get this right.  The challenge will be to bring in the right designers, have sufficient community input and balance it all against the needs of Macerich to make it profitable. Regional shopping centers now have amazing designs and layouts, like the Caruso Malls, Universal City Walk and Pikes Place Market in Seattle.  People will flock to a place where they feel comfortable.

 

Edelman pay

Is it just me or does anyone else think paying Ed Edelman $400,000 over two years to help “solve” our homeless issues is an awful lot of money? I thought that is why people elected Bobby Shriver, so he would use his contacts and influence to make things happen. He used his influence instead to hire someone else influential. Now we get to pay former Supervisor Edelman a lot of money to have a part-time gig at his home office. $200,000 a year is more then he was making as a Los Angeles County Supervisor. I am not sure if I have seen any concrete results from his efforts; as far as I can see there has been no reduction in the homeless population. How many meals can $400,000 pay for? Could Upward Bound or Step Up on Second have used that money to do some good?

The City Council is preparing to rubber stamp another year of consulting from Edelman so he can “finish the job.” Solving our homeless issues is not a job that is going to be “finished” any time soon, so how many more years will we need a czar to do the job? I am also hearing all this talk about how this is a regional problem; if so then why don’t some of our neighboring cities help pick up the tab for Edelman’s efforts?  The key people to coordinate efforts with are clearly defined; they are LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, State Senator Sheila Kuehl and US Congressman Henry Waxman. Coordinated efforts and a real commitment to housing first, including more funding to our existing transitional housing organizations, is the key to helping get people off the streets.

Michael Rosenthal

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