With all this talk of war, recession, debt, global warming, and any other major catastrophe, an old friend of mine wondered if the next generation would want to bring children into this whole mix. My reassurances were simple: we had the Vietnam and Cold Wars, oil spills, deep recessions, super- high inflation rates, cutting old growth redwoods, acid rain, and more – and we had kids! She wasn’t impressed with my answer. So I used my old stock in trade…every generation on earth has had to face imminent disaster and total annihilation; just imagine Genghis Kahn camping outside your city gates. Maybe it is because sex is so much fun and a huge human motivator, or maybe we keep having kids because it is a source of renewal and it brings such meaning to our lives. I believe in the cyclical nature of things. I know one day the war in Iraq will subside, we will have enough food to eat, an energy revolution is forthcoming, and the human spirit will continue to evolve in a myriad of positive ways. Right now, despite some of the darkness we are constantly exposed to, there was still a beautiful Santa Ana wind day on the beach, with surfers hitting the waves, bike riders enjoying the 80 degree weather, and people lollygagging along the shoreline in their swim trunks and bikinis (yep, I noticed) looking pretty content.
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Our friends in Mar Vista are asking for help. They are being forced to breathe polluted jet fumes as a result of the rapid rise in jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport. I once lived on the Marina Peninsula and once a week I had to wipe my deck clean of black soot, which I was told was jet exhaust fuel. The soot that didn’t reach the deck ended up in my lungs, so I can sympathize with our neighbors east of us. Santa Monica needs to take the simplest measure and at least study the air pollution being generated. State Senator Sheila Kuehl voted against Assemblymember Lieu’s very reasonable bill which would have taken basic measures to determine the true effect: “This bill requires Santa Monica Airport to record the engine type and operation times of the landing and takeoff operation cycles, as defined, of all aircraft operating at the airport and make this data available to the public no later than February 1, 2008.” Kuehl was way out of line on this one. She voted against this bill on the assumption that she was helping the political powers of Santa Monica, to whom she owes her political fortunes. This bill was appropriate and long overdue. Her vote against it belies her commitment to public health. In any event, the City of Santa Monica needs to work closer with it’s airport in finding ways to minimize air pollution.
While we are on the subject of Los Angeles vs. the City of Santa Monica, there is some question as to the best course for the Exposition Line. Many in Los Angeles feel Venice would be a far more logical route than bringing a line to Bergamot Station. This one may need more study. Prepare for a political fight, as Santa Monica is hell-bent on having the route come here, and LA, which the route will primarily serve, feels it has more entitlement. Oy.
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We just celebrated our son’s sixth birthday at Magicopolis. It was with a wonderfully serviced affair for 25 screaming five- and six-year-olds. I love magic, which is always laced with lots of humor (“please turn off your pagers, cell phones, and pacemakers”), and we are really fortunate to have this little jewel on 4th Street. As you depart the premises, there is a row of beautiful ficus trees up and down the very busy traffic-oriented street. I could see no evidence of tree disease, which someone must have had to investigate with core samples and a spectral radiograph. The trees I saw were providing a wonderful shaded canopy and appeared fairly healthy. And what if they were diseased? Is that reason enough to destroy them? My grandfather was diseased for the last 30 years of his life, and he wouldn’t have missed a second of it. There are indeed ways to treat disease.
If we were to listen to our esteemed Mayor Bloom, who seems to get on the wrong side of popular issues, the DECISION was made three years ago. Huh? Anyone recall that discussion? Did he really think when the time came to cut these trees down people were not going to notice? I hate the word decide – it effectively shuts out all alternatives and is a really poisonous word (pesticide, herbicide, genocide). I prefer the word choose, which keeps options open and allows us to reconsider.
Unfortunately, our City Manager appears to also agree that the trees need to be cut. I think it is because he has a serious case of get-it-done-itis. Normally I like that about him, but not in this case. In this instance, P. Lamont Ewell needs to take a deep breath and reinvigorate the public process. Of course, it will be interesting to see where our City Council lies in all this, as the only Councilperson to vote against cutting the trees was Kevin McKeown. Ironically, the Planning Commission, which is often excoriated for making life difficult for developers, stood up forcefully and requested more civic discourse on the trees. Good for them.
Will the trees be saved? There is no telling. With some perspective, I watched the shovels break ground at the new bus facility. In downtown Santa Monica, when it should have been put at the Airport and that valuable land downtown reserved for a residential/commercial/open space mix. That “decision” was made almost 10 years ago and nothing anyone could say or do could get the powers that be to take a second look at it. Their response was always the same…oh that’s been decided. And, sadly, the fate of our beautiful ficus canopy may also have already been decided.
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Please allow me a moment to share with our readers why some of your more trusted newsrack locations have been missing. The City of Santa Monica, in an attempt to clean up racks around town, red-tagged many newspaper racks. Ours and everyone else’s. We were told to replace front plates, remove graffiti, and generally take better care. We do this as a matter of course because we wish to make a professional presentation to all. But can you imagine the abuse these poor racks get? People have taken sledgehammers to our front plates, crow bars to the opening, graffiti spray cans all over, and even used some for trash cans. It is a shame really, as it makes it just that much more difficult to present ourselves properly. Plus, it seriously raises the price of doing business, and as a result raises local business advertising rates. As a result of a few admittedly very ugly racks, the City confiscated some of them, but from our perspective that is just pouring salt on the wound. What we have asked for is that the SMPD treat vandalism of our racks as they would vandalism of any other business in town. And we are working with the City Manager to develop a set of protocols that will allow us the opportunity to maintain racks that are particularly hard hit. We spend a lot of money buying, installing, and maintaining racks – we want them to look good. If you have a rack that needs special care, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 310.577.6507. Much Thanks.