If you value our cultural heritage here in Santa Monica, a world free of nuclear weapons, or public art, or peace, or the responsibility to do the right thing about the care and preservation of gifts of art to the city, or if you just want to have a good time, be entertained by some top-notch talent and hang out with one of Santa Monica’s legendary characters, don’t forget tonight is Jerry Rubin’s 70th Birthday Save Chain Reaction Peace Party, at Rusty’s on the Santa Monica Pier, 6 p.m. — 11 p.m. For the info, search “Save Chain Reaction.”
When I wrote about my recent affairs of the heart, I left out an important message for everyone. Well, two. The first is, it’s hereditary. Hereditary, hereditary, hereditary. If your parents, grandparents or siblings had heart problems, you are more at risk than for any other factor. (Doesn’t mean if you’re clear on that count that you should start on the cheeseburger and heavy butter diet.) But out of five of my highly regarded heart specialists I queried, all five unequivocally named genetics as the most important factor. The surgeon who operated on me gave it a number: 75 percent. If you have that factor, it doesn’t mean you should ball up in a corner waiting to die, but it’s important to be aware of symptoms, and to get yourself checked out.
The other thing, that few people know: more women than men die of heart disease. And they have different symptoms. Again, inform yourself. Women are nine times more likely to die from a heart problem than from breast cancer.
Save Santa Monica
Sounds extreme. Alarmist. An overreaction.
There is movement afoot. More and more people every day are realizing what’s happening to our fair city, are horrified and distraught, and are banding together to try to turn things around.
What’s happening is what many would call runaway development, of so many projects all over the city, of such massive proportions, that it will change forever the Santa Monica you know and love today. Exceptions to our zoning laws and long-term planning guidelines are being handed out like Halloween candy. Developers rule, and the people’s voice is not being heard.
Three skyscraper hotel towers (15, 21 and 22 stories) within blocks of each other on Ocean Avenue are speeding toward approval. And once they’re approved, there is precedent and nothing will be able to stop more of them on our cherished Ocean Avenue. Hello, Miami Beach.
A lot of people love to stroll Main Street, a stone’s throw from the ocean. Will you still love it when it’s a dark canyon of four- to six-story buildings, instead of the two stories that we’ve had for so long?
The old Papermate factory site at Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street is going to become a three-quarters of a million square foot housing-retail-business development. If you think the traffic around there is bad now, come back in a couple of years.
A 285-room hotel at Wilshire and Seventh Street. Two six-story hotels across the street from each other, Downtown at Fifth Street and Colorado. One block away: two new apartment-retail complexes, eight-story and six.
Remember Norm’s and its neighbor, the big antique mall, and the Denny’s across the street and all three big parking lots? They’re going to be covered in apartments and retail, right where the Metro will come roaring through every few minutes. Good luck sitting in that traffic. (Altogether, 10 new mixed-use developments on Lincoln Boulevard are planned within three blocks north of the freeway.)
Here’s the one that kills me: goodbye AMF Bay Shore Lanes. And guess what replaces it? Yes, more apartments and retail. Hard to believe it was just seven years ago that Santa Monica took the lead in California’s effort to limit the size of new developments.
The above is just a fraction of what’s in the popeline. Are you concerned yet?
The people who are getting informed are people just like you and me, who live in Santa Monica, love it and intend to stay. They’re the ones who count. The folks for whom this is a temporary layover, just another dot on the map — we’re happy to have you here, but you’ll leave and not look back. We want our grandchildren to grow up here. We’re the ones our City Hall and City Council should be serving, and they’re not.
A group of highly respected architects calling themselves SMART (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) are meeting, brainstorming and acting. They have five stated goals it’s hard to be against: To preserve the uniqueness of our beach culture; to maximize light, air, views and green space; to build to a human scale; to create a walkable and drivable city; and to be a smart, connected and sustainable community.
Prominent local realtor Kate Bransfield, after years of attending neighborhood meetings but seeing no results, declared herself frustrated and now ready to make things happen.
“I’m a realtor but I’m also a Santa Monican, since 1989. I love our sweet little city and will work hard to stop the insanity.” She recently posted, “The momentum is palpable. We’re on the brink of taking our city back.”
Architects and realtors — shouldn’t they want increased development? Of course. So when they stand up and say slow down, we should pay attention.
Who else? All kinds of people — young and old, artists, executives, students, retired — who cherish Santa Monica and don’t want to see it ruined forever by overdevelopment. The ranks are growing daily, and it’s not just talk. Action is being taken. It’s not too late, but very soon it will be. We need every voice.
The big picture and how it got this way and how it can be slowed down is ridiculously complicated and, of course, political. Two things everyone can do: no matter where you live there is a neighborhood association you can join. They are talking, they are all banding together for a stronger voice. You can learn there, and be part of the solution.
Once you get your feet wet, go to the Facebook page for “Santa Monica Government, Politics, Policies and People.” Ignore some petty squabbling there, and you can learn a lot.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 27 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com.