I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing Mayor Gleam Davis during the first hour of last Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. I am honored to be able to serve our residents for the upcoming year. You already know who I am and what I stand for. I will not waver in my steadfast commitment to serving our residents and businesses within Santa Monica.
Even though progress has been made in correcting the course of our city, there is still much to accomplish. Our public safety is still at risk, and the influx of homeless individuals continues to deal crushing blows to Santa Monica. The city has replenished our police force with over fifty replacement uniformed officers to help protect everyone who lives, works, or visits our city. I will NOT REST until our town is considered one of the safest in California.
You have heard me state that it is not compassionate to leave our unhoused visitors to die on our streets. We must demand emergency assistance from the federal, state, and county governments to reverse this tragic tide. Santa Monica cannot solve this human crisis on its own. It is not compassionate to leave our businesses and residents without the means to achieve the essential feeling of security in our city. Everyone’s safety in Santa Monica is paramount. I pledge to work with all of you every day on our communal public safety.
Every resident of Santa Monica needs to team up with their state, county, and local representatives to minimize the attraction of crime and stem the onslaught of illegal drug use in our city. Vastly reducing homelessness can’t occur without the recognition by our federal government that this is a national crisis. Mental help and aid for those in need must occur nationwide, and we need vast resources in our town, supplied by the county and state, to make a serious dent in this major crisis of our time. We need our county to recognize that distributing syringes in our city’s parks and neighborhood playgrounds is abhorrent and must stop.
We suffered through the civil unrest in 2020, the malaise of the pandemic, and poor economic realities over the past few years. But we’re still here, and we will come back. Santa Monica’s multiple economic engines are still firing, and the future economic forecast for our city is strong. Like most cities, there are problems throughout our town, but they are solvable. We will do better.
July 14, 2025, will be the 150th anniversary of the founding of Santa Monica. Our history, heritage, and resolve will be displayed for the world to experience. Let’s reconnect with our unique beach culture, the artistic bent of our workforce, our distinct neighborhoods, and the personalities who have lived here who have made this such a special place. Many city planners talk about finding a “sense of place.” In Santa Monica, we do not have to look for that proverbial sense of place because we already have it. It is our sacred job to maintain it – to not blend into Los Angeles but to remain distinct and unique in our vision for a better Santa Monica. We must celebrate and display the arts, all the arts, throughout our bayside city so that we can relish the outstanding works of our neighbors.
We became a city that lasted because my predecessors in our city government knew how important water was to the survival of our town. Los Angeles gobbled up cities around us who could be held hostage for their lack of water. We did not have that problem. We found a water supply that could sustain us. Now, we must ensure that essential water supply does not dwindle through overbuilding. In fact, Santa Monica must stand up for local control of our planning and building codes and ensure that our infrastructure is sound enough to support the state-mandated construction being foisted upon us. Every city in California needs to control its destiny. We are no different. Stand up for local control.
Our affordability crisis is real. Regrettably, we are the land of the $22 burger and $4,000-a-month one and two-bedroom apartments. We must control the large amount of unnecessary inclusionary housing being built and concentrate on entry-level accommodations and genuinely affordable housing in our community. We must encourage diverse, small businesses to locate here and do our best to have affordability, not only in housing but throughout the retail and restaurant spheres as well.
There is a lot that needs to be accomplished in Santa Monica, but I know that with your help, we can succeed. Become involved in our city. That’s what I did. I have volunteered in the city of my birth for half my lifetime. I need each of you to stand up for a better Santa Monica where, together, we can thrive. I can only succeed if we all succeed. I will provide many opportunities for us to communicate directly with each other: town halls, neighborhood meet-ups, walks with the Mayor, a “kitchen cabinet” composed of the chairs of each commission and city board, and a second cabinet made up of the chairs of each neighborhood organization.
As a “roughly” ceremonial mayor, I have power equal to my city council colleagues. We must heal the rancor that exists within our city among both the council and factions in our town and learn to work together with only one regard: the needs of our residents. Everything else is petty. Each of you is needed to apply pragmatism and common sense to the administration of our city. Yes, we’re Santa Monica, and it is believed we are on the cutting edge of almost everything. But we cannot be progressive without being a safe, fiscally sound city. Let’s right our ship first, and then we can dare to do great things. For now, we must regain our balance and concentrate on the issues that confront us daily. Let’s banish those issues and regain the Spirit of Santa Monica.
If you were at any of the various neighborhood gatherings over the past two weeks, you’ve seen the Spirit of Santa Monica at work. Families, couples on dates, grandparents, parents, and children playing happily together and sharing this special time of year. Don’t let the negative thoughts that surface overwhelm the beauty of this place. Sunsets are their most fabulous this month. The powerful Pacific Ocean is incredibly blue. Smile more, enjoy your city more, and patronize our local establishments in your incredible neighborhoods. We will solve the intractable problems as they have been solved before. All of you have an ally in your corner: the new Mayor of Santa Monica. I am honored to be on your side.
Mayor Phil Brock for the S.M.a.r.t. Group
(the S.M.a.r.t. has graciously donated their space to Mayor Brock for this issue)