What is going on with all the new parking meters in SM? This summer the city put meters around Douglas Park, so now mom/dads with kids have to feed the meters every two hours. Every time I turn around there are new parking meters going in on side streets adjacent to Wilshire Boulevard. What’s next? Parking meters in front of our homes? Enough already. I can’t believe what they are doing is legal. And the rationale they give – that the meters keep traffic flowing – is pure B.S. All it does is erode our quality of life and increase revenues for the city.
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Why do poor people deserve to live near the beach, as Councilmember McKeown was quoted as saying recently with regard to the new CCSM building on Main Street? Do I DESERVE to live near the beach because I am not poor? No, I don’t DESERVE to, but I may earn the right to.
CCSM could have used their money to buy less expensive land and could have then built more affordable units in less expensive neighborhoods, like the Pico neighborhood. The Pico neighborhood needs the investment more than Ocean Park anyway. So CCSM chose to add density to one of the most dense parts of SM rather than making the only remaining depressed part of SM better by investing its money in the Pico neighborhood. Meanwhile there is no longer an incentive for the people living in this new building to ever achieve beyond subsidized housing. Why would they? They live two blocks from the beach and pay half the rent that other people pay next door. Why would any of these people want to earn more money? They might have to move to the Pico neighborhood if they did.
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Miracles happen in Malibu.
Last Sunday, October 21, while families slept soundly, wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour toppled trees like dominoes and cracked electric poles like toothpicks along Malibu Canyon Road. We had all of the ingredients and “perfect storm conditions” for a catastrophic fire. Malibu’s “27 Miles of Natural Beauty” could have easily turned into “27 Miles of Natural Disaster.”
The fire licked the walls of Webster Elementary School and Our Lady of Malibu Church and School, but halted from burning them down to the ground. The fire seared the walls of a condominium complex where many families live, but stopped short of consuming the walls. The fire raged around Hughes Research Lab, but didn’t dare enter. The fire marched up the hill towards Pepperdine University where thousands of students and faculty live, but stopped just short of its front door. The fire surrounded the walls of City Hall, but rested at its parameters.
As brave firefighters valiantly waited to beat back the beastly fire at the ridge near Piuma, they watched in amazement. The winds, usually an enemy to be feared, became an ally to the firefighters. The fire was yearning to consume the dry fuel and rush towards the homes in Monte Nido, but the winds wouldn’t let the fire have its way. The winds even kicked dirt back upon the fire. One firefighter explained he had never seen fire act like that and exclaimed, “You don’t know how lucky you are.”
We did lose four homes, the Malibu Presbyterian Church, and two commercial structures, but miraculously no one died. Compare this to the fires of 1993 that started in Laguna Beach and ended in Old Topanga. In the 1993 fires, 30 people died (one firefighter lost his life in Malibu) and 4,907 structures burnt to the ground. We lost 268 homes in Malibu.
Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the fire in Malibu and throughout our sister cities in Southern California. Please know that the city will be here for you as you rebuild your homes and your lives.
We want to first congratulate our residents for an excellent job of being prepared to evacuate and for your advance adherence to brush clearance requirements. The devastation could have certainly been much greater had we not been so prepared. For this we are very proud and forever grateful. We urge you to continue to be vigilant in your emergency preparedness plans.
The City of Malibu appreciates and is eternally indebted to everyone who answered our call for help. Many people came from all over the state and country and from all walks of life to save and help us. We are grateful for all of the brave firefighters, deputy sheriffs, especially Deputy Harold and Deputy Chavez, CHP officers, volunteers from the Red Cross, and the inmate workers who assisted in many ways.
We are thankful for Kirby Kotler, a volunteer from Arson Watch, who saved the lives of strangers. Raphael Lopez, a Shell station employee who could have gone home, but chose to stay over 38 hours straight to provide gas to everyone. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), trained by our Emergency Services Director Brad Davis, who was ready, willing, and able to help at a moment’s notice, and the countless others in California and the world who did what they could when they could.
We cannot forget the public servants who worked tirelessly to help us all, especially Fire Chief Freeman, Fire Chief Tripp, Sheriff Lee Baca, Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, Susan Nissman, Assemblymember Julia Brownley, Senator Sheila Kuehl, and Assistant Superintendent for Santa Monica School District Mike Mathews.
A special thank you must also be given to Pepperdine University and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team of professional staff, especially Billie Greer.
Thank you, Pastor Greg Hughes, and also all of the religious leaders who joined together at the Ecumenical Celebration of Life last Thursday night. You sent out the message of hope in a time of despair.
Last, but not least, Malibu City Councilmembers Ken Kearsley, Sharon Barovsky, Andy Stern, and our dedicated staff, led by City Manager Jim Thorsen. They worked tirelessly around the clock to help insure the safety and welfare of all of our citizens.
All of you went above and beyond the call of duty. You are all heroes. You are all angels. Because of you, we are safely here today.
With admiration and gratitude,
Pamela Conley Ulich
Mayor, Pro Tem
City of Malibu
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FMP = BB + $X
The recent debate over how to spend the $268 million of BB funds has obscured the big picture vision of the ambitious Facilities Master Plan (FMP) that is a well-thought-out document – actually many individual documents, one for each school – outlining changes that need to be made to each campus and an estimated cost to do so. The plan could take two decades to implement. This information is available at ourschoolplan.com.
Unfortunately, there is no quick, easy to read summary showing the total cost of the FMP. However, if you review each proposed project and add the estimated costs of all projects together you come up with a price tag of $480 million as outlined below. Putting an actual dollar amount on such a multi-decade project is difficult since present dollars do not equate to far off future dollars which need to take inflation and the like into account. Superintendent Talarico has recently suggested that the total amount may be over $1 billion dollars, which I assume is the projected need of future dollars.
In any case, the cost to transform the SMMUSD district to the FMP vision will require much more than the $268 million the district currently has to spend. The community will need to step-up and vote more funds in the future. The willingness to do so will depend on two things occurring: 1) A clear understanding of how more money will benefit the community, and 2) Evidence that the district is able to wisely spend and make a significant impact with BB funds.
Point 1 is not always easy to make to a community. However, most times citizens, even those without children, have been willing to support school bond measures since they understand that a strong school district brings many tangible and intangible benefits to their city.
Point 2 provides a great opportunity, but also a potential pitfall, to the district’s effort in convincing the community to support future school financing. If the community – both those with children as well as those without – believe BB monies are being spent wisely and showing results, they will be willing to step-up to the plate again. If results are not dramatically shown, future funding measures may be in jeopardy. The operative word is “show.”
My simple premise is that people believe what they can see and that people appreciate quality. Samohi is the most visible school and the heart of the district. Eighty percent of district students eventually attend the school and probably 99 percent of Santa Monica and Malibu residents pass by it at least several times a year. Remodeling Samohi so it rivals and compliments the state-of-the-art parking structure and new city buildings directly across from it would cause the community to buzz about how positive things are being done by the district. SMMUSD would be able to point to a strong, prominent example showing what can be done with more funding. A beautiful Samohi project would lead to an energized, engaged, excited citizenry willing to fund the FMP vision to completion.
Voting more money to Samohi by the School Board last Thursday was not only the right thing to do because of the compelling needs of Samohi, it also was the smart thing to do to help ensure future funding by the community. It remains to be seen whether the initial $57 million that was allocated is enough since the FMP envisions about $112 million needed for Samohi.
(all prices in millions)
Edison $ 23
Franklin $ 32
Grant $ 17
John Muir $ 18
Juan Cabrillo $ 15
McKinley $ 20
Pt. Dume $ 11
Roosevelt $ 23
Webster $ 14
Will Rogers $ 22
John Adams $ 41
Lincoln $ 39
Malibu $ 47
Samohi $ 112
Olympic/Adult Ed $ 28
Child Dev Center $ 18
TOTAL $ 480
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Dear City Council,
As our own, estimable Police Chief, Tim Jackman, remarked in a recent interview, “We’ve had several fatal accidents Downtown. The traffic issues are huge. Congestion is a big deal.”
He’s right and you have the opportunity to do something about it. Our city does not have an accurate measure of our existing traffic congestion or an accurate measure of future congestion based on all of the ongoing and proposed development in Santa Monica.
Over the past several years, there have been many, many discussions about when to implement a new traffic impact methodology and what that methodology should be. The time has come to move past the debate and into the action phase, now that our land use and circulation goals have been articulated in the LUCE process.
In March 2005, you held a “think tank” session, which included some leading traffic experts. At that time, there was general agreement that our current traffic impact methodology is flawed and insufficient because: 1) it only measures the level of service at certain intersections and only at peak hours, instead of measuring citywide traffic congestion at all hours; and 2) it is not designed to accurately predict cumulative future traffic impacts citywide resulting from all ongoing and proposed new development.
Last year SMCLC, the Planning Commission, and the Santa Monica Task Force on the Environment all asked the City Council to allocate the resources to allow city staff to expedite study of alternate traffic impact methodologies and to begin collecting baseline traffic and congestion data for the city. SMCLC also asked the city to jointly apply with SMCLC for an innovative CAL TRANS grant to do this. Instead, the city applied for the funds on its own and was turned down last month. By contrast, Los Angeles, secured two grants of over $200,000 each when it partnered with nonprofit community groups. $200,000 is the amount that SMCLC estimates it will cost Santa Monica to get a master traffic congestion system up and running.
Priority Funding Request
We now urge you to approve and properly fund this project as an urgent priority as part of the LUCE process for the following reasons:
1) The city presently has sufficient information gathered in the LUCE process to understand residents’ goals for land use and circulation. Traffic-weary residents are feeling a growing sense of urgency about this issue, expressed most recently at the city transportation workshop on October 6.
2) The current traffic impact methodology that Santa Monica’s consultants use for Environmental Impact Report traffic studies is not working because it is not intended to help planners deal with existing or future traffic impacts. It evaluates only isolated street intersections (often using data that is several years old).
3) The best traffic impact methodology for Santa Monica is a complicated issue. The city will need to commit sufficient funds to hire outside consultants who are expert in the field to assess which traffic impact methodology should be selected, what data should be included in our citywide traffic database, and how it will be updated. At a minimum, we believe this database should map all trips generated in and out of Santa Monica 24 hours/day x 7 days/week, and it should distinguish between residential and visitor traffic (workers and tourists).
4) Generating a new, citywide model is vital in order to better mitigate traffic congestion and to make responsible future land use decisions. It should not be lagging behind our master land use planning or ongoing development decisions. It should be integral to them.
5) This funding and implementation request has been pending a long time and our city has sufficient funding resources to do this. Over the past two years SMCLC and every neighborhood group have polled their groups and have individually asked the city commit the funding for a new traffic counting system in budget discussions with the city manager.
With a comprehensive and accurate traffic database we can better mitigate traffic congestion and we can better plan for future development, understanding what the likely traffic impacts would be throughout our city. Without this, future growth could result in intolerable traffic congestion for residents and unacceptable environmental impacts.
We urge you to commit the funds and hire traffic engineering consultants to create a master citywide grid traffic system.
Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City
North of Montana Association Board of Directors (NOMA)
Ocean Park Association Board of Directors (OPA)
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I heard there were these bank robbers holed up in a house down the street, living high on their ill-gotten gains, the evidence of their crime all around them, and the local police refused to act.
The desk sergeant was heard to remark, “Well, that crime happened a year ago this fall. If we were to go after these guys, we’d have to get a warrant, and then it would take years to bring them all to trial, and who knows how it would come out because what with all that dough they could hire the best lawyers. We decided the best thing to do is just lay back and let them spend the money. Maybe later we’ll go after them if the statute of limitations hasn’t run out.”
Sound preposterous? It would be. Any officers who behaved this way we wouldn’t consider worthy of their office, and would demand their immediate removal, such is the respect we have for the protection of individual private property.
Yet the way the Democratic leadership behaves in the matter of impeachment is actually worse. “It would tie up the process, we don’t have the votes to convict, impeachment is off the table. We’ll just continue to fund this illegal war, and at the same time blame the President. We’ll give up whatever civil liberties he wants in the name of counterterrorism, and at the same time point out how dangerous he is. That way when we win the next election, we’ll have access to all the extended power that we have given away to him.”
No matter that the majority of Americans elected Democrats because they wanted action on ending the war and on the theft of civil liberties.
No matter that Congress has taken the same oath to uphold the same Constitution with its guarantees of individual freedom that this Executive branch violates continuously.
No matter the moral imperative of returning this nation to the sound footing of international law and justice, both within and outside our borders.
No matter that, in knowingly continuing to fund an immoral crusade of injustice, we convince the whole world we are dangerous and not to be trusted, capable only of treacherous hypocrisy.
No matter that, in yielding to the wishes of an over-reaching Executive, we become complicit in his crimes of torture, arrest without warrant, imprisonment without trial, blanket surveillance, and many other illegal crimes of war.
No matter that it is not about winning, or who will rule, or controlling the world’s resources. It is about being a nation of laws — not of men, about doing what is right, and on that basis, trusting the chips to fall where they may.
The evidence abounds. We are living it. Every day we tolerate the continued existence in office of this Executive branch, they make murderers of us all.
Though some state legislatures and many cities throughout the nation (including our larger sister city of Los Angeles) have passed impeachment resolutions, here in Santa Monica our City Council has refused to do so.
It is time for us to remind our leaders who they work for.