IT’S THAT DAMNABLE BUILDING
That set me off. You know, the rendering of the beautiful long shiny-white sumptuous, curving redesign of the historic Miramar Hotel at Ocean and Wilshire that so many are falling all over themselves to praise, with all the happy Santa Monicans pictured strolling the now-open grounds and enjoying new access to our mighty, historic, landmarked 130-year-old Moreton Bay Fig tree.
Oh, those architectural renderings, that were unveiled last week. All part of the program, the program of deception through optics; of less is more (of what they wanted all along), of sensitivity to residents’ desires, community deference through compromise. Feh. We’re being taken for a ride, folks, in a sleek shiny vehicle following a roadmap they had in their back pocket all the time.
What you see is Plan B. I’m sure there is a Plan C too, but chances are B will go through and there will be dancing in the aisles of Ocean Avenue LLC, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and every organization that benefits financially and/or politically from this overblown, wrong-for-Santa Monica explosion-expansion precedent. The waves and ripples have already spread far and wide, to every group that salivates at the further unchecked development of what precious little open space we have left in our hemmed-in hamlet.
Oh, ha ha ha, you mean that 21-story ugly tower that looked like a bad Lego — I know it was offered with the straightest of faces, and architectural plans, and plenty of stooges saying Ooo I love it! But come on, you know that was a decoy. Everyone does it; it’s up to us to remember that and not get sucked in. Did the Huntley waste all that time and effort to block it? No. Because you will jump at Plan A if people are foolish enough to give it to you.
This Plan B is much prettier. But it is the 21-story monstrosity flattened to fill the entire block. The owners get everything they wanted, all the very expensive condos and more expensive hotel rooms, restaurants, and retail. We get something that benefits the City coffers only slightly more — the Fairmont Miramar as it stands today is making a nice profit — but lands a monster on our precious Ocean Avenue that does not look like it fits in a historic seaside small city of under 100,000. Rio? Honolulu? Monaco? Miami? We’ve got some great-looking plans for you that we can’t use.
Oh, that poor fig tree. Used for commercial gain, trotted out and propped up front so we might not notice so much the behemoth that’s being wrapped around it. If it wasn’t for that distractive value and that pesky historic designation I’m sure it would’ve been turned into firewood to make way for one more very expensive hotel room across from the Pacific Ocean. Because money talks. In today’s America, it screams everything else down.
“OUR” FIG TREE?
Charles, I do believe you are living still in the mythical land of the ‘70s People’s Republic of Santa Monica. (Even though I didn’t “discover” Santa Monica until moving to Mandeville Canyon in 1980, finally landing here in 1986.) Without going into that whole complex, very interesting time in our local history that preceded me, I will admit to being a reluctant capitalist. A Bernie Sanders-style democratic socialist. (Oh, the howls! The derision, the laughter. But you knew that.)
If you are a Santa Monica resident of some intended permanence, who understands and values our history and unique position in the Los Angeles megalopolis, if there’s anything going down in Santa Monica that you’re not happy about — this horizontal horrorshow or the other two skyscrapers still being proposed with straight faces for nearby on Ocean Avenue (but see, the Gehry tower has already been reduced, lucky us) or a 12-story block-square hotel smack dab in the middle of town where a town square ought to be, or low-income housing built next to the freeway or the Wall of Lincoln — follow the money. Follow it to City Hall, to Sacramento, to D.C., to Moscow. Follow it throughout history.
Money makes the world go ‘round, and it did in the late 18th century when some young rebels in America (the average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 44, more than a dozen were 35 or younger, with several qualifying as Founding Teenagers and 20-Somethings) thought they had a better idea for the future than what Olde Europe offered. They were capitalists, they were the economically elite, but they were also idealists who understood that greed can bring it all down, and so they tried so meticulously, so wisely, with such insight to the future that what they created worked really well, for almost 200 years. 197, I’d say. They gave us the sacred vote, and it has been perverted and subverted. They gave us checks and balances, an independent judiciary, so many things that money has now bought.
Of course, people or corporations should be able to do what they want with their property. But with restrictions. Should the Miramar be allowed to build a nuclear plant there if it’s a more profitable use of their property? There are reasonable restrictions. This is our city. Not Dell’s, not the union’s, not Frank Gehry’s, not SMRR’s. We have the votes, nationally and locally, to be able to choose representatives who will actually represent US.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: But will we?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” ― Isaac Asimov
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” ― Winston S. Churchill
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” ― H.L. Mencken (26 July 1920)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org