It’s that time of year again, but tragically this year so many things are staggeringly different and difficult on many levels for the people and businesses here. The joy, peace and good spirits we normally look forward to in the holiday season have sadly dwindled down to unease and uncertainty in the grip of COVID-19. The full impact of society’s temporary and permanent changes still remain to be seen. Even so, we believe there still exists our hope, courage and determination to make things better. It’s on that note we are putting forward the “wish list” we want Santa to bring us this coming year.
We can achieve our goals by providing a focus and emphasis on common sense directives and realistic economic added value solutions which won’t add tax burdens to already aching budgets and pocketbooks. The best interests of most Santa Monica residents and businesses have been frozen out somewhere in distant space by over development, poor planning and zoning “solutions” which predominantly orbit around the financial sun god of investment groups, real estate financial funds and short term profit opportunists. These lack any real appreciation of and interest in preserving and advancing the true quality of living here in Santa Monica.
That said, we “wish” for the following:
1. As the City updates the Housing Element, that “new models” of housing affirmatively and proactively incorporate “community land trusts” and “limited equity housing cooperatives” as a progressive, non-market based form of home ownership. The benefits include but are not limited to opportunities for permanent affordability, improved stewardship of land, and a strengthened local economy. Residents would be further invested in their community and this would result in less occupant turnover and create greater stability overall.
2. The City should promote the development of a wider range of housing types including more live work units, lofts and family sized units. It’s important to plan residential growth into different areas around the city and zoning for residential growth not focusing only on single family zoned areas and adjacent areas.
3. Refine an Urban Design Plan for the downtown area and Major corridors including city owned parcels that are able to be developed with mixed use supporting neighborhood and family owned businesses with affordable housing, including a reinvigorated Promenade that is accessible to all residents and includes small family run businesses and fast food franchises.
4. Santa Monica to create and promote state funding incentives for development and the repurposing of existing industrial and commercial buildings to incorporate studios and residences by not increasing parking requirements. This is a huge form of environmental recycling.
5. The City to achieve sustainable independence from water importation by 2023 as is stated in the Santa Monica water sustainability goals.
6. All new developments must be designed with minimal to no impact on energy and water consumption and additional costs for required physical infrastructure as possible.
7. Santa Monica should join 50 other cities to legally stop the State’s fraudulent claim that the City should and must increase its population by about 20% by building 8874 new units in eight years. Properly analyze with real confirmed data what our community needs are by recognizing parameters other than the SCAG numbers which are incorrectly based on faulty data.
8. Renewable on-site energy source requirements (including car recharging) that, given current technology, would limit heights to three, and possibly four stories . The added value here is it would also keep heights in line with the requirements of the multi-year design effort of the LUCE (Land Use Circulation Element) which specifically states and mandates that building heights should be reduced. This is the antithesis of what we are now seeing happen here. No-one wants to come to a congested overrun Downtown Los Angeles by the sea. This is for the long term benefit of all, residents and visitors alike, and the preservation of the essence of what makes this our beach town.
9. Save the History Building at Santa Monica High School from the School District’s spendthrift demolition derby.
10. Provide City owned, city wide, dark fiber, high speed internet system, built as a public utility for all our businesses, students, visitors etc.
11. Put some real long term and livable solutions into solving our share of homelessness through local initiatives and collaboration with both the City and County of Los Angeles which will contribute significant progress in reducing crimes and returning safety for residents and enjoyment of our parks, streets and beaches.
12. And last but not least we want good health and well-being with everyone being vaccinated as soon as possible. We value our precious elderly, all the courageous and selfless essential workers, the police, fire departments and medical professionals. Teachers are also very essential, so we hope they will be prioritized as well since we need to reopen the schools ASAP.
This will be a year we would all like to forget, but the silver lining if there is one is at all is that we have come to see many profound changes and learn by them, in some cases we have been sorely reminded of the values created by the quality of life in Santa Monica (or absence thereof) and how that effects everyone and everything in the long run.
Wishes can be realized only if our community stands together and the new City Council does what’s required in order to move our city back to common sense solutions, directions and sustainable goals.
by Michael Jolly for SM a.r.t.
(Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)
Ron Goldman, Architect FAIA; Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building & Fire-Life Safety Commissioner; Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Planning Commissioner Commissioner; Robert H. Taylor, Architect AIA: Thane Roberts, Architect; Sam Tolkin, Architect; Marc Verville accountant ret.; Michael Jolly, AIRCRE
For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings