February 29, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Community Benefits Lacking For Transit Improvements: Letter To The Editor:

Dear Editor,

I recently attended the monthly NOMA (North of Montana Association) meeting and shook my head in disbelief when a Big Blue Bus representative explained there is new planning management who will be looking at alternative routes to connect with the Expo line as there is no parking, other than street parking, connected to the three Santa Monica stations. 

But when I asked if Little Blue Buses (i.e. mini buses or jitneys) were being considered to connect these three stations with N-S cross-town access, I was dumbfounded to hear that money was not available for additional vehicles. 

It was explained that the city’s general fund doesn’t provide for the Big Blue Bus who is on its own financially even though they are a department of the city!

WE ARE GIVING DEVELOPERS INCREASED DENSITY AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PROFIT, AND IN RETURN WE ARE GETTING MINIMAL COMMUNITY BENEFITS ALONG WITH THIS INCREASED DENSITY AND THE TRAFFIC IT BRINGS. WHERE ARE THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS GOING IF NOT TO SOLVE THESE TRANSIT IMPROVEMENTS??

In approving Development Agreements, the city routinely asks for TIF’s (Transportation Infrastructure Fees) and TDM’s (Transportation Demand Management fees).

Where are these funds going? And don’t you just love these seductive acronyms – intended to make you feel the city knows what they are doing. 

In Washington today, government listens to and benefits primarily lobbyists, and in Santa Monica, local government benefits developers and their attorneys. 

Money dictates the future of our city and sadly, as a fellow architect recently suggested, our culture and environmental capital is being mined by outsiders.

Is the anxiety over tax revenues worth architectural and environmental mediocrity? And when we reach this level of mediocrity, where do we go except higher and denser – kind of like a ponzi scheme as another fellow architect suggested. 

Greed is not synonymous with quality of life. And so-called “community benefits” don’t begin to equate with the density and profit being handed to developers.

In any event, no amount of community benefit can make a poor project a good project.

Ron Goldman

Santa Monica

in Opinion
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