While many people in Southern California were out at the beach or hiking or playing sports on a hot summer day, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown and members of the city council spent Sunday in a special session to discuss the top issues and concerns facing the city today.
After over three hours of discussion and opinions from local residents, council members identified the most important issues currently facing Santa Monica residents. For the most part council agreed that the most critical areas of concern are the following:
• Maintaining an inclusive and diverse community.
• Establishing a new model for mobility.
• Addressing the homeless situation.
• Maintaining local control of city land occupied by the airport.
McKeown pointed out that “by choosing a few as a focus we’re not abandoning other (issues) as well.”
The Mayor and council members each had the opportunity to talk about issues that are most important to them. McKeown listed diversity, mobility, and the airport land issue as his top three choices.
Councilman Ted Winterer feels that traffic congestion around Santa Monica is a major issue, and is concerned the homeless situation has taken a turn for the worse.
Councilwoman Gleam Davis had several concerns, including making diversity and education main priorities.
Mayor Pro Tempore Tony Vazquez is also focused on making Santa Monica a more diverse community, and feels the airport land situation is another top priority.
Other council members got the chance to speak out as well. Several comments were made about the importance of affordable housing, another major topic in Santa Monica.
City Manager Rick Cole felt the meeting was a productive one.
“People generally care passionately about these issues,” Cole said. “But there’s a level of respect.”
Cole added that Sunday’s meeting was an important step, but now it’s time for council members to “think deeply” about the most critical issues facing the city.