The homeless population in Santa Monica may swell by about one hundred due to the closing of the Village Trailer Park at 2930 Colorado Ave. The homes there cannot be relocated, and the residents face eviction.
There are two solutions. The City could sponsor a seminar for the Trailer Park residents, almost all of them seniors, to prepare them for homelessness. Topics would include “How to locate the very best alleys and doorways in which to sleep,” “How to construct temporary shelters from shopping cars and scrap” and other necessary homeless survival skills. The people of Santa Monica are inured to the homeless problem and surely will not mind an additional one hundred homeless.
The other solution is for the park owner to compensate residents for the loss of their homes, so that they can find other housing. This would be a win-win solution because the owner could then get the zoning change needed to build a high rise which will alleviate the housing shortage.
I would like to correct some misapprehensions which may have been created by Jeffrey Weinstein’s June 29th letter, a response to the Mirror’s June 15th article on the budget priorities of neighborhood organizations.
1. I was indeed once chair of the Ocean Park Community Organization (OPCO) traffic committee. Mr. Weinstein states that during my tenure “streets in Ocean Park were regularly torn up to install so-called ’traffic improvements.’ ” This may or may not be true, but Weinstein grossly overstates my influence and that of the committee on these alleged events. If memory serves me, all our committee persuaded City Hall to do was remove unneeded red paint on curbs to add more parking spaces in our neighborhood.
In fact, there was a bit of street work during the brief time I chaired the OPCO traffic committee, although suggesting streets were regularly torn up may be hyperbole. Main St. was dug up during this time for a replacement of the sewer main damaged by the 1994 earthquake, but no traffic slowing measures were implemented in what was entirely an underground job.
The only traffic calming plan implemented in Ocean Park during this time of which I’m aware was on 4th St. However, I had no involvement with this project other than to share Mr. Weinstein’s dismay that the City’s strategy was to install temporary measures, remove them to put in a water main and then construct permanent medians and circles, as it also seemed to me a waste of taxpayers’ funds. Had I the influence over municipal policy which Mr. Weinstein ascribes to me, I would have dispensed with the medians and used the space to create bike lanes buffered from traffic, an urgent need in a burg which has far too few means for cyclists to travel safely. Instead, the 4th Street traffic calming plan was born of the efforts years earlier of residents of that street and their lobbying of city officials – I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
2. Mr. Weinstein implies that I am the sole advocate for the scheme to narrow and green Ocean Park Blvd. from Lincoln to the beach (“Ted wants to employ the same heavy-handed tactics to our own Boulevard in Ocean Park”). This assumption may lay in the Mirror’s original article on neighborhood organization budget priorities. While I never spoke to the Mirror’s reporter, I emailed him a copy of the budget requests to the City Council unanimously approved by the board of the Ocean Park Association (OPA). That email to the Council came from me in my capacity as the current president of OPA but was reviewed and approved by the OPA board. Rather than reflecting my own personal crusades (as the Mirror’s article may have led some to believe), the email listed a diversity of requests to improve life in our neighborhood, including the ambitions of OPA’s Ocean Park Boulevard Committee. Mr. Weinstein is always welcome to join our meetings the second Sunday of each month and participate in these decisions; more information is available at www.opa-sm.org.
3. Mr. Weinstein seems to believe OPA’s ambitions for this stretch of Ocean Park Boulevard are designed increase his travel time to the Albertsons on Lincoln Blvd. That is simply not the case – there is no intent to slow vehicles driving at the posted speed limit, reduce that speed limit or eliminate traffic lanes. Instead, the idea is to reclaim the perimeter of this residential street (which it is in Ocean Park, not the commercially zoned “major thoroughfare” Mr. Weinstein describes) and to put to better use the square footage seized through eminent domain by the City in the 1960s from the streetside residences. From this unused asphalt up to two linear acres of landscaping, buffered bike lanes and safe walkways could be added. Yes, Ocean Park Blvd. would be narrower, as befits a residential street, but not to impede the safe and legal flow of vehicular traffic. Instead, pedestrians and cyclists would find east-west movement safer and more aesthetically pleasing; crossing the boulevard would be easier and less risky, especially for the kids from the three schools abutting the street; travel which doesn’t consume scarce fossil fuels would be promoted; stormwater which previously tainted the ocean would be captured by greenery; and new trees would scrub the air and reduce global warming.
4. None of this is heavy-handed nor is it a plan concocted absent any public dialogue. OPA is attempting to resurrect a concept agreed upon in a series of community meetings a number of years ago; the plans derived from those meetings have been gathering dust in City Hall ever since. In addition, the Open Space Element of the General Plan, prepared with community input, calls for all of Ocean Park Blvd. to be a recreational pathway, meaning opportunities for walking, biking and the like should be enhanced. And the Parks Master Plan, another City planning document developed with public feedback, advocates for just this sort of “street greening” and advises that unused road space in our City should be planted to create what amounts to in-fill parklands.
Finally, should OPA succeed in its uphill battle to persuade City Hall to fund this greening of Ocean Park Blvd., nothing will be built without the requisite neighborhood meetings. Mr. Weinstein would at that time be able to participate, share his concerns and seek to have them addressed.