October 23, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

Your Thursday article [Santa Monica Mirror, October 18-24] “Civic Leaders, Environmental Experts Give Views on Trees” quoted Craig Perkins (Director of Environmental and Public Works) thusly: “It’s not fair of anybody to say that they were unaware of the project. Maybe people forgot what was approved in 2005.”

Maybe it’s Mr. Perkins who forgot what the city’s own staff said in the October 11, 2005 staff report: “though workshop invitations were sent directly to downtown businesses, residents and property owners, and the workshops were advertised in three local papers, attendance was low.”

What was approved in 2005, Mr. Perkins, was not easily and widely available to the public at large. Until the Treesavers group started working to save these trees, the City didn’t even have drawings of the project on its own website for public viewing. Any attempt to ascertain the nature of the project required (as I know from personal experience) a great investment in time and effort, and the taking of time off from work simply to visit the Planning Department and see the drawings.

Further, upon my own visit to the Planning Department earlier this year, I suggested to the planner that it might be helpful to publish the project’s drawings on the Internet for the public’s benefit. But it was not until the arrival of litigation that the city appears to have agreed. And even today, the drawings that the city has made available are inaccurate and incomplete: visit the Planning Department, and the drawings you’ll receive don’t match the ones on the city’s website.

We’ve had 50 years of fights to save trees in Santa Monica, most recently regarding almost identical trees on Yale and 18th Streets, which occasioned enormous scandals, and even litigation. With this history, one might expect the City to be extra-sensitive to the issue of mass tree removals, and engage in special efforts to make sure the public’s input was received, noted, and – most importantly – incorporated into the project. Instead, what we get is Mr. Perkins’ pithy comment: “Maybe people forgot what was approved in 2005.”

The next time Mr. Perkins, a city employee, feels the need to opine on the motivations and memory of his employers and on the democratic process in this city, he might be wise to consider the thoughts, opinions, and desires of the citizens of this community.

Dan Jansenson

Santa Monica

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Our traffic situation is HORRIBLE. As a more than 30-year Santa Monica resident, I can honestly say that the traffic situation: the chaos, the noise, the parking, the congestion – all of these have taken away from the flavor of the city I came to live in those many years ago. Certainly, a more effective traffic system can be imagined and put into effect. With all the taxes we Santa Monicans pay, I think this is our due.

Name withheld

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RE: Publisher’s Notebook, October 18 – 24, Volume IX, Issue 19

Thanks to publisher Michael Rosenthal for the enticing account of migrating Monarch butterflies and the fall treats he discovered on his recent trip to Oregon. We at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, who report bi-weekly on seasonal produce for the Mirror, would like to defend against and indeed deny the charge that there is a shortage of tasty pears and peaches at the Markets. In fact, this week you can find both the Bosc pears and Jonagold apples that Michael loves at the downtown Arizona Avenue Farmers’ Markets, as well as several varieties of late peaches, along with French green beans, strawberries, and some sweet corn…and some blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and the tasty little Comice pears his son likes. So, instead of pining for Portland, we invite you to enjoy California’s fall bounty right here in Santa Monica.

Sincerely,

The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Management Team

Editor’s Note: It should be noted that the state fruit of Oregon is the Pear.

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To City Councilmembers of Santa Monica:

I was advised to email you this. I have tried to be brief and to the point.

On April 17 I received a “smoking ticket”’ along with two other people I didn’t know who also happened to be smoking. I wasn’t familiar with the law but respect it. I remember reading something about no smoking on the Pier and Promenade. I myself am a ‘social smoker’ probably smoking no more than two or three cigarettes a week.

Before I went to court I was directed to the weblink which is a document written, published and distributed by the City of Santa Monica:

smgov.net/news/citybusiness/smoking_regulations.htm

In it is clearly stated:

The primary means of enforcement will be education, awareness, and voluntary compliance. If necessary, and if a smoker refuses a request to stop smoking in a prohibited location, police officers may also give citations.”

On October 16, I (and another one of the persons who received the ticket – she does not want to be identified) went to court (room 218) to fight the ticket because I was given no warning or request to put my cigarette out. I would have immediately. The police officer acknowledged he’d not given any warning during the trial.

I lost the case and am required to pay $900. Again, I agree with the law, it’s good. But $900!! The supposed fees are $250, but the real fee for those found guilty (with penalty assessments, etc.) is $900. The punishment does not fit the crime.

The judge said the law as written does not provide for a warning. I showed the judge the above printout and he said he “would look into it,” but stated he had no choice but to enforce the law as written.

The officer who issued the ticket said the Chief of Police instructed his officers they should now issue tickets since the six-month “grace period” since the law was enacted has expired.

There was no “warning” posted outside of this café (like you see at hospitals, schools, etc.). I was at an indoor/outdoor café called the Novel in south Santa Monica (off Main Street). A beatnik kind of place with a lot of struggling writers, artists, students. And many people smoking. If I was anywhere near a school or hospital or work place (retail, etc.), I wouldn’t smoke.

I am a father of three young children and a documentary filmmaker of nonprofit organizations. I am by no means wealthy. This is a huge hit for me financially.

There are some other details but I trust your intelligence and would rather refer to any questions you might have.

I do plan to appeal the ruling but am intimidated by the process and have been told by City Council staff to gather as much information as possible. I am hoping to get some sort of ruling or decision as soon as possible as I only have 30 days from my verdict to file an appeal.

I understand another person fought the same ticket and said he did inform the judge that he’d read the info bulletin that the City of Santa Monica issued which says a warning should be given. Only this time the judge said, “Well if you knew there was a law, you should know there was no smoking – warning or not.” He was found guilty.

We are in a catch-22 here.

Sincerely,

Andrew Lauer

Santa Monica

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