May 19, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letter To The Editor: Z… Is For Zoning:

Dear Editor,

Admit it. You probably think Zoning is pretty dull. And I feel your pain, because it is. But the Zoning Ordinance Update is also the most important decision facing our City Council right now and will change our city more than anything else over the next 15 years. The good news is you’ll know everything you need to know about it by the end of this letter.

First of all, look around. Santa Monica is special. You live in paradise. You also realize things will change a bit over time, but overall, you love the city and don’t want politicians or developers or anyone else screwing it up.

Secondly, there is a big difference between residents and developers. You live here because you love it here. Developers live to make money. Scorpions sting, tigers have stripes and developers always go where the money is. They’re already making a killing here and want to make even more by building more buildings wherever the City Council will let them. If you need proof, look around. See the new buildings? Tired of gridlock on Wilshire? Those buildings and that traffic are the result of too many politicians allowing too many developers to build too many buildings too fast. They make the money. You pay the price.

The third thing you should know about zoning is a lot of concerned residents saw all this happening so they formed neighborhood groups like Wilmont and Residocracy to convince the City Council to put resident interests ahead of development interests. We don’t get paid like developers and their attorneys and PR people do, but we’re having an impact. For the first time in a long time, the majority of current Councilmembers seem to be listening more than past Councils did. They’ve already thrown out some of the really bad things from the Zoning Ordinance Update, like so-called ‘Activity Centers’, which are really just big developments that would draw a lot of traffic to neighborhoods. Most residents think tall buildings should stay Downtown, but developers want them pretty much everywhere, even far away from the Expo line.

The fourth thing you should remember (we’re almost done) is there are some really crafty people who pretend they want the same things as you do, but they don’t.  They advocate for the same things developers want. They pretend to be socially progressive and say they support affordable housing, but they know the vast majority of the housing developers would build would be expensive, market-rate housing. They use words like sustainability even though they know you can’t achieve sustainability by merely building taller, bigger and denser. Maybe they think we have plenty of water and not enough traffic. I don’t know. What I do know is their group includes current and former City Council members and officials who support the very things developers support.

You care about your city, but do developers care about you? No. They don’t. They care about money. Should you trust them? No. I wouldn’t. And neither should you.

What it all boils down to is this: The Council will either approve a Zoning Ordinance Update that makes most residents happy, or they’ll approve one that makes most developers happy.

That’s where you come in. When you’re done with this letter, write one of your own. Email it to this newspaper and send a copy to all seven Council members. Join a neighborhood group. Attend a Council meeting and tell the Council exactly how you feel.  If you want the City Council to do what you want, tell them what you want.

Please. Do it today. Because while zoning may be dull, it’s also really important and our city’s future depends on it.

Or, just let the developers and their minions do all the talking and shape your city for the next 15 years.

Sincerely,

John C. Smith

in Opinion
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