October 24, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

A Dinner Invitation, Porn, and a City on Fire

Santa Monica is such a lively city. Valentine’s Day was last week, and many celebrated it with roses, cards, and dinner. A young lady and her anonymous director of photography celebrated with a sex act video in our mini-parklets on Ocean Park Blvd, in front of John Muir Elementary School, and inside our historic Carnegie funded Ocean Park Library. Constructed in 1917-18 on land donated by the esteemed Tegner family of Santa Monica, I suspect that the Tegners and their heirs never dreamed that the book stacks in front of the Emily Dickinson classics would be part of a porn flick that filmed during open hours in the Library. Just named a 5-star library system (the best there is) in the United States, we hope it is not for the variety of filming locations available inside our beautiful libraries. There are questions about the lack of supervision as we have uniformed library guards, librarians, and now social workers in each building. Or was the video filmed before opening hours with the assistance of an unnamed library employee? Does the Library have a surveillance tape, and why is the penalty (if caught in the act) only a misdemeanor? Above all, parents do not want this to become a regular occurrence in our town. Rumor has it another porn video was taped recently in a downtown parking garage. While the city appears to want to be #1 in all things, we sincerely hope that this type of filming is discouraged in Santa Monica. Ultimately, is this just another sign that our city has grown too much for our public safety folks to handle? Again, we call for our infrastructure, including public safety, to be our priority, before growth.

~ The so-called Plaza at Santa Monica has invited folks to dinner at Tiato Restaurant. The “Plaza” was one of the key sponsors of Ice at Santa Monica, and a banner sponsor of last week’s State of the City address. Perhaps they should wait until they receive approval from the City Council and then beat the citizen referendum that will inevitably happen to stop the project before wasting their money. The location is publicly owned land at 4th and Arizona. They’ll try to lure you in with their grab bag of “community benefits,” but you should ask yourself whether you need an observation deck twelve stories above the ground to see the extra 5,000 cars that will clog our downtown streets. We can’t access downtown now. How can we stand more traffic?

~ The Police Chief announced dramatic drops in major crimes in our town recently. Yet our residents see barricaded streets, reports of shots fired, cars broken into, seniors punched, bicycles jacked, and shoplifting everywhere as a repudiation of the statistics. I’ve asked for Part 2 (minor crime statistics) from the SMPD since February 4th without an answer. Why is that information being withheld? Crime is affecting more and more residents. Early Sunday morning, a former City Council candidate’s new truck had an attempt to steal its catalytic converter. The damage was about $3,000 to the truck, located on Montana Avenue and 16th. It is but one of several incidents to happen to him over the past few years. With a young child and an apprehensive wife, he is one of many who have declared that Santa Monica is no longer worth the fight. One prominent former Santa Monican says, “The disaster called Santa Monica. It is an unsafe, decayed catastrophe – at moments resembling scary memories I have of watching the Twilight Zone as a child.” That’s terrible to see in print, and I fervently hope that the City Council, City Manager, and staff will take notice of what our stellar city is becoming and will take action to reverse the somber words of our residents and ex-residents.

~ The Mayor of Santa Monica gave a somewhat subdued speech last week at the State of the City. There were some of the usual glowing platitudes about our reputation as “Silicon Beach” and the $5 Billion payroll it brings into the city each year. Introduced as a six-term council member and two-time Mayor, a picture of an e-scooter flashed across the screen, and the Mayor quipped “Get off my lawn!” While not as lame as residents depicting farmers holding pitchforks during his last term as Mayor in 2015, I’m sure that the many residents who have filed lawsuits against the e-scooter companies because of their injuries will not laugh off the e-scooter meme on screen. They may want to ask themselves whether the city is better off now than it was during his third, fourth, or fifth city council term in office. He seemed proud that our homeless strategy is working and that downtown homelessness has dropped. Yet, we are adding homeless liaisons in our libraries, and Reed Park is still out of control. Homelessness has spread throughout our city, and whether they commit crimes or crimes occur against them, the situation is both disturbing and dire.

~ A homeless human was severely beaten in a 12th Street alley this week trying to get some shut-eye. In 1990 an LA Times article about homelessness in Santa Monica painted a dire picture of our town. Resident Leslie Dutton stated that SM policies, “led to a decay of this community, and has created an unsafe environment, particularly for the elderly and children.” Twenty-nine years later, we can say the same thing. There is the old saying about doing the same thing over and over again. You know the rest!

~ I erred in my SMart column of 2/7. In the print edition, I mentioned that if the city accepts the Southern California Council of Governments edict that we build 9000 new apartment units within a decade, we will be short a million gallons of water a year. Fellow SMart member Dan Jansenson set me straight – it’s 1.1 Million Gallons a DAY in 2029. So much for our conservation efforts!

~ For those who keep advocating that more apartment construction will magically lower rents and preserve our economic diversity, I bring you the rents at the Catherine Santa Monica on Lincoln and Colorado. Studios start at $3800, 1 bedrooms average $4600. 2 bedrooms at $6700, and “spacious” 3 bedrooms at 1067 feet begin at $7195. That’s what our city’s construction boom hath wrought!

A town on fire using its residents as kindling – that is not how the city seal pictures us. That is not how we want to live. We must reclaim Santa Monica.

By Phil Brock for SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) 

Thane Roberts, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect, Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Mario Fonda-Bonardi, AIA, Planning Commissioner, Phil Brock, Santa Monica Arts Commission.

For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writing

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