The Santa Monica Council Members to be elected on November 4, 2014 will be responsible for guiding and shaping the City. Their decisions will affect each of us in practical ways – such as our daily travel in the City; the number of parks we have and how they are used; how we spend the public dollar and the social benefits that can bring; and the image and character of new development in the City.
This column is the second in a series of columns where City Council Candidates are asked to respond to issues of controversy and conflict in Santa Monica.
There are 14 candidates for three seats. The purpose of these columns is to let you, the reader, get a better understanding of each candidate and to help you as you decide which candidates are worthy of your vote.
In this column, candidates are offered a chance to show their ideas and their actions for Santa Monica Seniors.
Question #2 is:
Senior programs serve a valued population in Santa Monica. There has been a long-standing tradition of holding Senior lunches and other Senior activities at the Camera Obscura building in Palisades Park. Recently, the Senior lunches and activities were moved to the Ken Edwards Center. This has been a point of controversy. Do you support moving the Senior lunches and activities back to the Park or would you support keeping those programs at Ken Edwards? If elected, what ideas do you have for protecting and enhancing Senior services in Santa Monica?
In first name alphabetical order, here are the responses of the City Council candidates.
I would try to bring lunch back to the Camera Obscura building, since that was so popular, but it’s also been a good thing to locate activities for adults of all ages there as well. As the son of a 93-year old who still lives independently in his apartment near Sixth and Colorado, I can attest that it’s good for seniors to associate with people of all ages, and these programs have been popular.
I support bringing lunches back to Camera Obscura. Some activities might be better situated at Ken Edwards. Ultimately, services and activities should not be relocating on a frequent basis. Consistent locations, clean facilities and caring staff are essential to providing reliable, high quality services. I will work to ensure that information about programs and services are communicated more broadly throughout Santa Monica to non-seniors – family, friends, caregivers – to build a stronger network for seniors.
As the oldest candidate (70, but still feeling young at heart) I certainly support protecting and enhancing Senior services in Santa Monica. We need to support our hard-working Commission on the Senior Community, Emeritus College and Wise Senior Services as well as our dedicated Disabilities Commission. It would be a very positive step to move some Senior services back to the scenic Palisades Park location, although the many functions at Ken Edwards Center are always positive and educational.
Seniors were taken by surprise when senior services were moved from their serene location. Many of the seniors are dependent on services, and are treated as if they’re suffering from dementia by the employees, some of whom were hired because they’re members of Santa Monica Renters Rights. Last year, I escorted a starving senior to Ken Edwards where she was rudely turned away because she didn’t have a reservation.
I’ve always been a strong supporter of senior services, and was vehemently opposed to taking 1450 Ocean from seniors. I still have a 1955 City memo wherein the then-Director of Recreation says, “I discussed this matter with Mr. M. L. Joslyn, donor of the new recreation facility in Palisades Park. Mr. Joslyn stated that he had presented this center to the City with the understanding that it would be used only by senior adult citizens.
Having watched my mother live her last years here in Santa Monica, while being vulnerable with Alzheimer’s and dependent upon the care of others – its absolutely critical we ensure seniors in our community can age gracefully, comfortably and independently as possible. I enthusiastically support city funding for WISE, Meals on Wheels and in-home services, to viable transportation/mobility options, mental and physical health support, affordable housing, and lively social, cultural and educational opportunities for seniors.
Isolation is one of the leading contributors to depression among our older generation and proactive measures must be put in place to create opportunities to engage on a physical level through easier transportation, and on a digital level to help families connect through online forums and social media platforms. Senior lunches, activities, and programs should be available through- out the city, and with better transportation, it would not matter where each particular meeting takes place.
To maintain robust programs for all age groups it is imperative to maintain a thriving economy–younger workers support seniors (including federal programs–Social Security) and our local economy. The inter-generational perspective is also growing in program delivery. While some programs are aimed at seniors, others engage seniors and other age groups. The senior specific programs are linked to services such as those available at Ken Edwards Center; inter-generational programs are offered all throughout the City.
Moving senior activities from the Senior Recreation Center in Palisades Park consolidated all services in Ken Edwards Center. However, it diminished the enjoyment of a world-class view that contributed to the wellness of many of our valued residents. We can offer expanded adjunct programming in Palisades Park for our seniors. Logistically, lunches need to remain at Edwards Center except for park picnics. We need a true, world class, senior center. Culver City and Thousand Oaks have better facilities. Let’s build an expanded senior recreation center that’s worthy of our seniors.
Senior lunches in the Park are a sign that aging in Santa Monica is taken seriously. Park lunches bring together the Park, art, Ocean, Beach and views with a touch of class and a sense of specialness. Ken Edwards is functional. It serves a different purpose. Accessibility, if an issue, can be built into the Park. Supporting seniors with services must always be seen as our community returning some of the huge value older residents have invested in our community over many years. Its takes vigilance by council members to make that a guarantee.
While the stated reasons for moving senior programs from Camera Obscura to the Ken Edwards Center – serving more seniors and integrating services – are laudable, I was and remain troubled by how this was accomplished. In this instance, as happens too often in Santa Monica, the process failed to include any input from the Santa Monican seniors served by the Camera Obscura programs. We need to remember that residents are stakeholders too. I will prioritize senior services, particularly those aimed at improving mobility and enhancing social contact.
I believe Ken Edwards is an excellent location. However, the senior’s activities at Palisades Park should also be included in the senior plan. I do not think we should get rid of one in order to have the other. I believe we should use both venues for our seniors because their population is increasing. As the longtime residents become the senior population, we are going to need more facilities for seniors. They have paid for the venues through years of faithful tax dollars- they deserve to have a choice between both.
Whitney Scott Bain
I am a big supporter of our seniors. I improved and expanded their lending library when I was on the Friends of the Santa Monica board. Certainly, they miss the Camera Obscura and would prefer to have their lunches there. What could be better than good company and a view of the ocean, rather than a sterile looking cafeteria? Sadly, their protests fell on deaf ears with our current Santa Monica council members. We need to honor and respect our seniors with their requests, not neglect them.
Senior services are a vital part of our function as a compassionate city. I favor returning the lunch program to Palisades Park. I also favor a comprehensive study of what the needs of our seniors in this community are. The experience and wisdom of the senior community in Santa Monica is invaluable to the preservation of our character and tradition. I look forward serving them when I am elected a member of our City Council.
What Say You?