The election season has begun. Unfortunately it appears once again that the same old council members will be seeking reelection. Not that we don’t like these people personally, but we are cautious about politicians that hog their seats and make no new room for others. There is little question that had Terry O’Day and Gleam Davis won seats during the election two years ago, this council would have behaved differently. Perhaps some trees might not have been slaughtered or development slowed, or even perhaps the public’s will would have been carried out by allowing medical marijuana pharmacies in town. Instead, the same old crew (O’Connor, Genser, Bloom, Katz, Holbrook, McKeown) acts as if they own this city and treat its citizens accordingly. That is the real motivation behind RIFT: the citizens consistently feel that City Hall (the second largest employer in the city, by the way is the City itself) is about…well, City Hall, and not about residents’ needs.
This year one big question will be if councilman Bobby Shriver seeks reelection. The word on the street is that Shriver may not run locally and instead seek higher office (California governorship). With Jerry Brown as the person to beat in the next governor race, Shriver would be an interesting counterforce. (It appears that the only person he would step aside for would be his sister Maria). He certainly has many fine attributes he can bring to bear. He is relentless in pursuit of his goals and impatient for change. The vet housing issue is a good example. While Waxman, Yaroslavsky, and Feinstein all congratulated themselves (and City Halls city staff got into the act with their proposed commendation), Shriver was appalled at the lack of speed and the minute amount of change that will occur under the current plan. In truth, he is right, our “Barons” have done nothing about transforming the vet property into vet housing, and when given an opportunity through heavy pressure by Shriver, they weakly moved forward, slowly, on one building. It appears to have driven Shriver slightly crazy, in a good way of course. Wonder what that impatience will be like if he were to become governor? Try getting a budget passed. One concern we have at the Mirror is that Shriver did not stand up for farmacies when given a chance, and he clearly caved on the trees when his voice could have made a difference. He saved his hedges, but went weak-kneed on the trees. Too bad.
All in all, Shriver does not need to continue on our city council, but his presence makes everyone a little sharper and provides a star quality to a cast that is getting rather stale.
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Summer means Hot Dogs on a Stick and with it the best lemonade anywhere. At least that is what we have been doing for the past 40 years, when you could take the #7 bus down to the beach and the corn dogs were just 50 cents. A day at the beach back then would cost a buck fifty ($1.50) including the bus fare. Now it costs $7 to park, not to mention gas and food. At least the city was kind enough to put in those short term parking facilities where one can park for $1 an hour. I still think the hour before sunset should be free; after all, do we really need to charge people to see a beach sunset?
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You just knew they were going to cut down those ficus trees. Photos after the fact put to rest the lie that those trees were dying. Why does stuff like that happen? Is it some kind of hypnosis that gets into these people, or is it just their way of playing a power trip on residents and letting them know who the real boss is. First eucalyptus, then ficus, Jacaranda is a problem because they are “messy,” and now they are on to carob trees. We can see the headline clearly: TREE KILLING SPREE CONTINUES.
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We spoke with a business owner the other day who expressed his frustrations with the SM planning department. It was disappointing to hear, as we had hoped the new Planning Director would kick some butt and straighten out this department that has had the worst reputation of all city agencies. Experience elsewhere gives us a clue as to how things can be done. In Vernon and Commerce, city inspectors work close by with business to get approvals and businesses running. In Santa Monica bureaucrats make plans to visit a job site every two weeks, drop their words of wisdom (hassle), and leave the contractors to wait another two weeks. Couple that with the four day work week and more rules than any reasonable person can follow, and the City can be just plain difficult to work with. That means delays and money lost.
We have often suggested city managers should be required to live in Santa Monica. We are told it is illegal to require this, but the justification is still valid. Street work and closures might be better understood from the civic point of view should the person have to drive up and down the coast highway for instance. Or what was that huge mess on Colorado all about? We understand there was a mistake made which caused some rework and some “smelly” delays due to sewer repair.
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But that is not all. With Yahoo discussing a move out of town and MySpace rumored to be going to Playa Vista, do we really need to build another 250,000 square feet to accommodate LionsGate? I understand they want their own home, and I understand they want to be in Santa Monica, but when does the large-scale commercial construction stop? Along those same lines must come the answer to the question, “How tall do we want buildings on Wilshire Boulevard to be?” The LUCE planning going on will determine this for the next 20 years, or the RIFT plan will prevail limiting choices. Both are due for either ballot or city approval, so now is the time to voice your opinion.