Santa Monica’s city leaders and business representatives rubbed elbows with each other at the Fairmont Miramar as Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) held its annual meeting Thursday morning.
The key themes of the meeting included a celebration of Santa Monica’s history and a look forward to where the City is headed.
Mayor Pam O’Connor kicked off the meeting with a 30-second video message.
DTSM CEO Kathleen Rawson boasted the City’s rich history and quoted Winston Churchill in saying “the farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
A slideshow narrated Santa Monica’s history, from the day a pair of investors bought some land near Palisades Park and to the revitalization of the Third Street Promenade into a successful destination.
“Place matters,” Rawson said, citing Santa Monica’s thriving businesses and popular tourist attractions. “People like to go to great places.”
Rawson also discussed DTSM’s budget and financing.
A large amount of that budget is dedicated to the Ambassador Program, she said.
Of course, Rawson did not shy away from acknowledging downtown Santa Monica’s pitfalls, including parking, vehicular access, and circulation.
Speaking of parking, Rawson boasted a new, larger Parking Structure 6 is almost complete, meaning there will be more available spaces for vehicles.
She was also proud of the reinvestment into the City’s urban core, including the revitalization of Santa Monica Place.
City Manager Rod Gould also addressed the economic trends that drive downtown Santa Monica.
“The downtown is the economic engine of the City,” Gould said.
He also cited downtown’s tax generation. The Third Street Promenade, for example, accounts for about 31 percent of Santa Monica’s total tax revenue.
“Some call the Third Street Promenade as Santa Monica’s living room,” he added.
Gould also cited downtown Santa Monica’s economic power as a destination for restaurants, hotels, and top retail.
The City Manager also addressed housing and Santa Monica’s business environment.
Specifically, Gould explained how Santa Monica earned and maintained its nickname of Silicon Beach.
Other key topics included circulation and the arrival of the Expo Light Rail Line, the addition of new parks near City Hall, the replacement of the Pier Bridge, upgrading the California Incline, parking supply, and various upgrades and reinvestments in and around downtown.
Downtown’s walkability was another point of pride for the City Manager.
Gould also talked about bringing a new movie theater to the downtown.
About 300 people attended the DTSM Annual Meeting.