July 1, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

The Psychology Of Santa Monica Development:

By Simone Gordon

As a graduate student studying Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Community Psychology, I essentially study what makes a city livable, how to integrate community members into their municipalities, and how to empower communities—in other words, my interest lies in what makes a city a happy city.

As a second generation Santa Monican who loves my hometown, I’ve followed the city’s current events with great fascination. The municipal issue du jour is, without a doubt, development.

There is undeniably a divide in public opinion about development in our city; some seeing increased development as a benignant proposition, others fearing it with a malice usually reserved for issues of war or other great national controversy.

Seeing as I study psychology, I look at the issue of development through that very lens. Communities have personalities just like people do, and, like people, communities can develop personality problems. Personalities can become strident, defensive, mistrusting, and ultimately, dysfunctional.

In terms of specific emotional problems, some portions of Santa Monica’s public exhibit classic anxiety symptoms over development. That anxiety leads some people to become strident and defend their position (tenable or untenable, as the case may be) beyond the point of reason. Like treating a patient suffering from anxiety disorder, we have to separate anxiety from fear.

Anxiety is free floating worry, whereas fear is legitimate and carries real consequences of harm. Once we are able to separate anxiety from fear, we can then take action to protect the patient from real fear—if there is such a thing, in that case.

Next, some Santa Monicans suffer from approach/avoidance conflict when it comes to development. A fraction of Santa Monicans are fundamentally conflicted about it. They want the indisputable benefits to the city that development brings (such as increased affordable housing, city revenue, and a more bikeable and walkable urban center) yet have anxiety about feared consequences such as increased traffic and degradation of city character.

How do we deal with conflict? We utilize conflict resolution. We begin by identifying the two parts to the entity that seems to be at war with itself. Next, we ask each side what it is wiling to give up in order to live harmoniously. Furthermore, rather than indulging in fears and anxieties, we research the facts that can either validate or dispel such concerns.

For example, thoughtful examination of evidence shows that transit-oriented development—in which more people are able to live where they both work and recreate—traffic is actually decreased even as the population density rises. Thus, through mediation we can find both resolution of conflict and abatement of anxiety.

Next on our list of personality issues, we have abandonment. A segment of Santa Monicans worry that an evolving, developing Santa Monica will leave them shut out in the cold—in other words, abandoned. “I’ve lived here for forty years,” is the common refrain. “Santa Monica is changing, and it’s not for the better.” “Will we even be able to recognize Santa Monica in ten years?” What is the common thread here? It is fear of abandonment, that the world will keep turning, keep changing, keep evolving, and some will be left behind.

Finally, we have an element of paranoia thrown in for good measure. There’s a considerable amount of suspicion and distrust about development-paranoia about traffic, of course, and also paranoia about how inclusionary housing policies will lead to “too many people,” will tax our public infrastructure, and turn Santa Monica into “Miami Beach,” as if building more affordable housing will suddenly turn us into Sodom and Gomorrah.

To deny the inevitably of development is akin to psychiatric patients denying the inevitability of change. They can throw a fit and slam themselves against their padded walls, but it’s going to happen, whether they embrace it or not. The attempt to deny change prevents any chance they have of exerting control or a positive influence on that change.

In the case of Santa Monica, by refusing the Hines development and shutting it down, we lost the opportunity to create a better outcome for our city. Instead, the former Hines project has been replaced by a development far worse for our community, lacking the benefits that Hines would have brought such as affordable housing, open space inclusions, and traffic mitigation measures. Hines wasn’t perfect, to be sure, but then again, nothing in life is ever perfect. As Voltaire once warned, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Just as a therapist helps their patients learn to navigate change in the healthiest way, to attempt to ensure the most positive outcomes for future wellbeing, we as the leaders of Santa Monica need to help our city’s populace learn to negotiate development in a constructive manner.

If we spend all our time trying to prevent development from occurring because we don’t want the extra traffic and population, we lose the chance to plan for and mediate that increase in traffic and population that simply will come by virtue of our rapidly growing global population.

The world is only going to become more and more populated, not less, and Santa Monica is not the only community that will have to face that inevitability. And thank goodness for that—the other option is to become like Flint, Michigan, with a declining population and a decaying city.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can’t help but wonder if we can help our community’s personality problems the same way we treat patients with personality disorders: through restructuring its cognitions, helping it develop more realistic core beliefs, increase its affect regulation, modify its destructive reactionary behaviors, and–if all else fails–send it to a really good psychiatrist.

Simone Gordon is a former commissioner for the Santa Monica Commission for the Senior Community, on the board of Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee, and a member of the Santa Monica Kiwanis.

in News
Related Posts

Central Coast Brewery Makes Westside Acquisitions

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Figueroa Mountain Brewing acquires Broxton Brewery, The Stalking Horse and more. Staff, current beer taps to remain on board at...

Mexican Restaurant Possibly Expanding Into Former Swingers Space

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Bar Hermanito applies for an alcohol exemption sales permit for space at 802 Broadway in Santa Monica By Dolores Quintana...

Six Family-Fun Westside Fourth of July Events

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Fireworks, parades, runs and more taking place across the Westside  By Ashley Sloan  Pacific Palisades  The Pacific Palisades will be...

California Credit Union Awards Grant to Santa Monica Teacher

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Building electric circuit friendship detectors and applying engineering principles to solve real world problems are Westside school projects receiving funding...

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Santa Monica City Council Approves New Rules to Streamline Meetings

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Pilot program will run through end of year By Dolores Quintana At the Santa Monica City Council meeting on June...

Banning Construction of New Gas Stations in Los Angeles?

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

Motion from LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz calls for banning the building of any new gas pumping facilities By Sam...

Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change: Santa Monica Beat – June 27th, 2022

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Child Of Elon Musk Receives Approval For Name And Gender Change * Smash...

Pico Boulevard Affordable Housing Project Tops Out

June 27, 2022

June 27, 2022

Brunson Terrance coming to 1819 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica By Dolores Quintana Community Corp. of Santa Monica has completed...

The Los Angeles Real Estate Market May Finally Be Slowing Down

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Real estate sales drop 21 percent in past year By Dolores Quintana The Los Angeles real estate market is showing...

Redevelopment Complete of Former Westside Pavilion Macy’s

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Developer announces complete of West End at Pico and Overland Developer HLW, on behalf of GPI Companies and in partnership...

Mayor Himmelrich’s Tax Transfer Measure Is Favored to Qualify for the November Election

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

In a cursory review, the City Clerk’s office verified 10,277 of the over 11,000 signatures  By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica...

Active Shooter Training Set for Santa Monica Middle School Friday

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Drill to take place at John Adams Middle School Friday morning By Sam Catanzaro ​​An active shooter training will take...

Metro Church and Cafe Fundraising To Keep Space in Santa Monica

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Non-profit church and coffee shop shut down following false vermin complaint By Dolores Quintana Metropolis Santa Monica is a multi-use...