Last Tuesday evening, residents turned up for a “show and tell” for the new Bergamot Station Arts Center redevelopment planned for the gallery complex.

City Hall’s Economic Development Department is recommending that City Council enter into negotiations with a team of developers that want to redevelop an area that’s now home to a number of art galleries and a future Expo Light Rail stop.

Three possible teams of developers are vying to build a hotel, offices, retail space, cafes, galleries, creative artist spaces, an art museum, a small amphitheater, gardens and plazas, and at least 442 parking spaces across Olympic Boulevard from the contested Hines development. It’s a project that seems to have some cool elements and many problems.

Residents were concerned about parking — underground or in a structure to be built on adjoining property which is now the City Yards.  Many attending were dismayed to find the proposal includes yet another hotel.

The hotel was mandated by City Hall staff showing again the obvious disconnect by both planners and the economic development folks from anything new that would be more resident-oriented than tourism-oriented.

City officials claim the hotel is necessary to subsidize the arts functions, but wouldn’t it be better to scale the whole thing down and build something primarily for the people of Santa Monica instead of another plastic, traffic-generating, tourist attraction?

 

 

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Thinking about the upcoming primary election

 

Previously, I wrote that I supported, Bobby Shriver for County Supervisor replacing the termed out Zev Yaroslavsky and Wendy Greuel for Congress, replacing the retiring Henry Waxman in the 33rd Congressional District.

When I endorsed Wendy Greuel a couple weeks ago (My Write, April 28, Page 4, “How long is City Hall going to ignore residents?”), I had misspelled her name as “Gruel” which I firmly blame on spellcheck that assumed I was writing about a watery porridge instead of a candidate for Congress. Greuel or Gruel, she still deserves your vote.

In the 26th State Senatorial District, with current State Senator Ted Lieu also running for Waxman’s Congressional seat, eight candidates are hoping to become new state senators. Two people stand out. Favorite son, Ben Allen, is waging a hard-fought campaign aided by a reported $200,000 in support from Manhattan Beach businessman, William Bloomfield, Jr.

I asked Bloomfield why he was supporting Allen’s campaign so generously. He told me that he met Allen here last August at a Democratic Party function and was very impressed. He said. “Ben is ethical, intelligent and has a passion for education. Allen is an amazing young man and has lots of experience in education. I want his message to be heard.”

Allen’s academic credentials are awesome and include Harvard, Cambridge and UC Berkeley. He served on the University of California, Board of Regents and teaches law at the UCLA law school. He’s also on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.

Betsy Butler was elected to the California State Assembly in 2010 for what was then the 53rd Assembly District.  In her two years in the Assembly, before being defeated in 2012 by former Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom in a redrawn 50th Assembly District, Butler was a staunch fighter for the rights of consumers and women, working families, veterans and seniors in addition to protecting the environment and advocating for affordable health care.

Both Allen and Butler are well qualified and are more than capable of doing great work. However, I’m giving the edge to Allen. I expect him to bring a renewed energy and leadership to a legislative body that has been maligned by an overwhelming majority of voters as being moribund and dysfunctional.

Speaking of the State Assembly, Bloom is running for a second term in the 50th District.  I’m going to go with Bloom because of his strong record on environmental issues. Richard deserves another two years.

If you’re not voting by absentee ballot, remember to vote June 3.

 

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Let the people speak

 

The good folks from Residocracy.org will be hosting a rally in front of City Hall before the City Council meeting Tuesday evening. The occasion is deliberation on the Residocracy petition to recall the council-approved Hines Bergamot Transit Village project.  The rally is at 6:30 p.m. If you’re at all concerned about the extent and pace of development in our fair city, you’ll want to attend and let your voice be heard.

It’s hard to believe there are still some council persons who think that all the hullabaloo about development is coming from just a handful of vocal residents who don’t represent the community mindset.  Tuesday evening is the time to show them we’re mad as heck about the way they’re governing and we aren’t going to be sold down the river anymore.

Mayor Pam O’Connor sniffed at the last meeting that 13,500 people may have signed the petition and noted that there were another 45,000 Santa Monica voters who didn’t sign — as if they all backed her pro-development position. No, Pam, they don’t. I’m guessing most of those 45,000 who didn’t sign weren’t asked to sign.  But, keep thinking we’re all wrong and you’re right. You’ll find out come November.

Council will have three choices to make: repeal its approval of the Hines development agreement or put the question to the electorate. Council has the option of a special election (at a cost of $200,000) or put it on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 4 for voters to decide.

 

 

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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