Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow (SMa.r.t.) is happy to connect with our longtime readers, and to introduce new visitors to our writings in The Mirror.
Who are we, and what is our column about?
SMa.r.t. is a group of design professionals – architects, engineers, and a Santa Monica parks commissioner. We came together in 2013 to provide our perspective to the public on pending projects, policies and planning issues in Santa Monica.
It is no secret that worries about traffic, development and transportation command center stage in this city. Development and transportation issues have affected the lives of every resident of the region. We have all experienced the growth in traffic, increasing density, mounting rents and the steady decline in air quality. We have also all questioned the ability – or will – of local government to address these issues.
Why is this group of design professionals writing about this?
We believe that the policies and projects that are currently being proposed for the city are often misunderstood by the public. They can be complex, and their presenters are often biased. Specialists and government insiders often use hard-to-understand jargon to frame these issues. Such language can mask or cloud the real problems. Many residents feel that they are often left out of these discussions, or excluded when decisions are made. Thoughtful, informed discussion about good planning, appropriate design and responsive government benefits all. We feel that citizen participation is essential when making decisions that affect residents’ lives.
In addition, as the November election approaches and residents will be casting their ballots on the LUVE (Land Use Voter Empowerment) initiative, we will be responding in our articles to explain and clarify the claims being made on both sides of this initiative.
Over the past couple of years we have written 88 articles, ranging from the City’s beachside character to environmental issues. Not all of our articles will be entertaining, but they will attempt to elucidate the core issues that face our everyday city life. SMa.r.t.’s intent is to use our professional experience to help clarify issues. We hope to assist residents in understanding and framing the issues so that they can better participate in the discussion on the city’s future.
SMa.r.t. uses the following six objectives to evaluate projects and policies:
1.To preserve Santa Monica’s “relaxed” beach culture.
2.To maximize light, air, views and green space.
3.To build at a human scale and for family life.
4.To create a walkable, bikeable and drivable city.
5.To be a smart, connected and sustainable community.
6.To allow for reasonable, appropriate development while maintaining our quality of life.
When we think about our city, we hope to connect past with the future and thus enjoy the best of both. To do so, we must balance the competing needs of residents, businesses and tourists through good planning and an informed discussion. A closer look at what lies behind the scenes can help cast light on solutions to the increasingly complicated issues that face us. It is our hope that by doing so we will be able to preserve the city’s quality of life, and that of its residents.
We invite you to join us as we continue to explore the city’s challenges and solutions. To read our past articles, please visit our archive at: santamonicaarch.wordpress.com
SMa.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) consists of Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Architect, Phil Brock, Chair, Recreation & Parks Commission, Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect, Daniel Jansenson, Architect, Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Architect, Samuel Tolkin, Architect.