At Thursday’s State of the City address, City Manager Rod Gould made a pledge that Santa Monica’s City Hall will be more business friendly. Well, it’s about time. For years the Daily Press has heard horror stories from merchants and homeowners about the inconsistencies in the Planning Department, particularly concerning the permit office and inspections. There were tales of one inspector giving the green light and another putting the brakes on the same project.

With the economy sputtering, unemployment hovering around 12 percent in California and more competition coming from overseas and across state lines, it is imperative for City Hall to reach out to businesses and provide a stable, predictable process. Google’s recent decision to move hundreds of employees to Venice serves as a reminder that Santa Monica can’t rest, but must strive to remain an attractive destination to set up shop.

We applaud the new era of collaboration between the Santa Monica Chamber and City Hall with the Buy Local campaign and the Santa Monica Alliance. We believe City Hall can still enforce proper zoning codes and maintain public safety and protect consumers, while at the same time providing a welcome mat to employers.

We challenge City Hall, the school district and other major employers to once again sit down at the table and brainstorm on how to build more affordable, workforce housing that will attract workers while at the same time addressing the significant jobs-housing imbalance that creates the traffic congestion that has been at the center of so much anger and frustration. The school district, Santa Monica College, hospitals and City Hall need to invest in workforce housing that is for those of us who are not considered low-income but are not blessed enough to live north of Wilshire or near the beach.

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