The anger towards implementing bike lanes is misdirected and unfounded. Why must it be car vs. bike? Like it or not, City Council has been “urbanizing” Santa Monica for years with no plans on curbing their current direction. With urbanization ultimately comes more and more traffic. The City is and continues to be built-out and we can understand the frustration of automobile congestion, but it seems to be a way of life in our “small” beach community these days. Our “local” community college now has a student enrollment of over 30,000 with most of their student population traveling to Santa Monica via car and bus – which are loud! Have you ever seen the intersections around SMC’s main campus (17th/20th & Pearl) during the first few weeks of a semester? So what is SMC’s antiquated and short-sighted answer to their uncapped student population: build more parking structures furthering their encroachment into the surrounding neighborhood. The frustration that people feel when sitting in traffic or paying hefty parking fees should be directed to the people who are in charge of planning the cityscape – not bicyclists. We should be welcoming bike lanes as an alternative method of transportation. Santa Monicans should be an example and exercise tolerance towards the people who have made the choice of getting around this congested beach community on bike rather than taking up space, natural resources, and adding to air and noise pollution, i.e., compounding the problem. Yes, we are a car culture, but our attitudes of transportation need to change. City Council needs to concentrate on expanding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure now. It is a sign of our times. We are long-time residents that welcome the addition of more bike lanes and pedestrian friendly streets. We are tired of looking and listening at hurried angry traffic. City Council talks the talk of “greening” Santa Monica; now lets see if they can walk the walk.
Christopher and Laura Thixton
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Many of our elected officials do an outstanding job governing Santa Monica. However, the fact remains that gender and racial equity are serious concerns for our city. Santa Monica residents have elected only eleven women to Council EVER. Since inception of City Council in 1947, less than 20% of our elected Council members have been women. Currently, we have only one female elected official out of seven Council seats. This is even less than our historical representation, meaning we have made negative progress toward equality on Council over time.
As is often said, women’s participation in political leadership of any society is the litmus test of the progress of democracy. When constructing the current United Nations Development Plan, many economists stated that “from the point of view of political economy, no issue is more important than recognizing the need for women’s political, economic and social participation and their leadership.” Seen from this perspective, it’s appalling that in a city supposedly as progressive as ours, only one woman sits on our Council and racial diversity is non-existent.
There is currently an open seat on City Council that has the possibility of being filled by appointment if Council members can reach consensus on a candidate. In the last several elections, residents were more likely to vote for incumbents, making it difficult for new candidates to get elected. Being this is the case, the current open position on City Council would be a good opportunity to introduce more women to Council, thus improving their odds of election during the next race. Residents interested in being appointed to City Council are submitting their applications and current City Council members will appoint a candidate on February 24th, if a majority can reach consensus.
There will be excellent candidates regardless of gender. However, this is an opportunity to promote equality in our local elected government, while having a candidate that is interested in resident issues and shares the values of the citizens of Santa Monica. I’d like to put out a call to action to all residents that are concerned with gender equity and democracy. Prior to February 24th, evaluate all interested candidates who have submitted an application and call or write our City Council members to voice your opinion.
In 2009, it is time for women to have an equal voice in political decision making. Only when women are equally part of the political process, will we have a democracy that is truly representative.
Gale Feldman, M.P.H.
Santa Monica, CA
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This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. —Hamlet
This month the Santa Monica City Council will vote to fill the seat left vacant by Councilmember Herb Katz’s death. One of the six remaining councilmembers has a hard decision to make: Kevin McKeown can be true to himself and to all who have worked with him to stop over-development.
Or he can do what he’s expected to.
Many Santa Monicans predict the following scenario for the February 24 meeting:
1. McKeown will nominate Ted Winterer, who was the first runner-up in the council election three months ago. (Winterer co-authored Measure T, a plan to prevent runaway development in Santa Monica. McKeown endorsed Winterer’s candidacy and strongly supported Measure T.)
2. Next, one of the three other councilmembers supported by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (Richard Bloom, Ken Genser, or Pam O’Connor) will nominate whomever the SMRR Steering Committee has selected to fill the seat. Word on the street says it is Steering Committee Co-chair Gleam Davis.
3. The first vote will be 3-3. Bloom, Genser, and O’Connor, will vote for Davis; McKeown, Bobby Shriver, and Bob Holbrook will vote for Winterer.
4. McKeown will then change his vote to the SMRR candidate. He will explain that if the deadlock is not broken, the city will have to pay $100,000 to hold a special election to fill the seat. He will also claim that Davis is just as committed to controlling development and traffic as Winterer is.
I hope this scenario does not happen. If McKeown follows SMRR’s direction, it is a sell-out with decades of fallout when you consider that whoever fills that seat will be the swing vote on the Land Use and Circulation Element. That is a huge 4-3 decision, which will determine how dense and how high buildings can be in Santa Monica for the next 20 years.
We cannot be sure how Davis would vote on the LUCE, but we can certainly look to the SMRR-dominated council’s record in approving huge commercial developments that are choking us with terrible traffic congestion. On the other hand, we can be sure that Winterer will hold the line on over-development and traffic. Through the last election, he has already made his positions known to all the residents—not just to the SMRR Steering Committee or to the councilmembers. The council should appoint him, but that would require Genser, O’Connor, or Bloom’s vote. That’s not likely to happen, because they are obligated to SMRR. A special election is the only alternative. If McKeown sticks with Winterer, he can force that to happen.
As to the election’s cost, $100,000 is just 0.02% of Santa Monica’s $500 million budget; a small cost so residents can decide this pivotal vote.
Ironically, Winterer is likely to win in an election. He ran an excellent campaign just three months ago and received 12,000 votes, without SMRR or developer support. Developers may field a candidate, probably Planning Commissioner Terry O’Day, but the voters who were swayed by the developers’ $750,000 campaign against Measure T are much less likely to vote in a special election. On the other hand, the grass-roots slow-growth movement remains energized in Santa Monica. More than 18,000 of us voted for Measure T. We will vote again and elect Winterer.
In the past, Councilmember McKeown has shown courage in standing by his convictions, the kind of courage necessary to stick with Winterer, because McKeown may be jeopardizing SMRR support for his 2010 re-election campaign. But if he stays true to his principles, grateful residents will remember his integrity when he asks for our vote two years from now. I predict he would win in 2012 with or without SMRR support, becoming a truly independent council voice.
20 year Ocean Park resident
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Something good is happening in downtown Santa Monica. Has anyone noticed the painting of our parking structures? I am a lifelong resident and know for a fact that this is the first time something like this has happened since they were completed in 1967.
Set in different appealing colors which reflect light better than before this environmentally safe paint sets each building off in an individual splendid and comfortable inviting ambiance.
With leadership by the Bayside District Corp. in co-operation with city officials we the public are appreciative and grateful.
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Because you asked, I am offering up an opinion. First, I keep reading that the replacement should be chosen based on the last voter turnout, and so on down the list. I reject that notion firstly because there is nothing in the city charter to support that formula; there are no election laws that set that precedence here either.
The very idea speaks to the hubris of some folk around here who think they have it coming as also rans?
The like minded idea that a SMRR replacement is going to get the seat speaks again to the idea that there are free elections here, there aren’t, I believe SMRR is a defacto political party, in what should be a non partisan election, and one only needs to look at the history of who is carried to office every time.
The tyranny of the majority come to mind.
The task of appointing a council member like Herb Katz as Bob Holbrook say’s doesn’t fly either, the departed councilman was as unique a man as the city could have ever offered up in many ways. But I would like Mr Holbrook to expand on who Herb Katz was exactly so we could construct a menu of sorts just to see who matches the criteria as Holbrook sees it?
Some how, I don’t think the majority of the council will ever appoint a person as the reincarnation of Katz.
Nor do I think the council will be able to agree on a candidate that fills the bill to meet the 4 votes required because there are enough who covet the office with enough political sway that they will throw the process in chaos.
It will be interesting to see a real independent appear however, but where does a city find such a person, someone who would always put the best interests of the city first, someone who would not play partisan politics to toe the official party think for fear of retribution for daring to stand alone when decision’s depend on an independent political spine? Someone with a lifelong sense of history here, grounded firmly in the present, and understands the realities of now, and has a clear vision for the future?
I know someone who fits that mold but that person will not run…
There will be a special election is my bet.
Santa Monica, Ca