If you are a voter and want to keep your rent, utility tax and sales tax low and at the same time save the environment, have lots of happy, well-paid teachers, police and firemen, then you must vote to take money from corporate America. This concept is lost on those of you that are complaining that Santa Monica is run by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), a group that has been voted in by the majority of Santa Monicans that rent (which is a majority of voters). If you’re not aware of the debate, it seems some are not happy that the elected majority from SMRR is running our local government for the purpose of furthering the cause of big business and developers.
It seems everyone forgot that the voters of Santa Monica decided what was important to them and elected a group of people to represent renters’ rights. That’s why they are called Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights and not Santa Monicans for Less Development. To protect those renters from rising costs, they must seek out money from developers and big business. Development brings money to this city without having to force taxes and fees on renters, the people who put them in office.
So complainers, do you believe in democracy or do you really want your beliefs to be forced on us by a dictator of your choosing? The reason why SMRR has power is because they win elections and control our City Council by allowing the majority of voters to live in rent-reduced dwellings in Santa Monica. This is called bribing the voters and it has worked well so far.
This is the beauty of democracy. Since the majority of people are not rich, the majority gets to vote to impose taxes and fees on those with more money. Unfortunately, some years ago the voters of California voted to amend the California Constitution by approving Proposition 13, which prevents the local city from raising property taxes. Since they cannot use property taxes to fund spending, we must find another source. We can always raise hotel and tourist taxes but at some point tourists may stop showing up.
The choice is simple, either voters pay more or we need to take it from someone else. That someone else is the big developers and big companies bringing their large chains to Santa Monica; the same chains that shut down the small businesses and restaurants that make Santa Monica unique. Think Warszawa, Monsieur Marcel, Blue Plate and Joe’s Pizza vs. Hometown Buffet. If you want to know what that means to Santa Monica long term, just take a drive down to Irvine where every cloned Pantone no. 576 green tree is the same height and has the same corporate approved number of leaves, planted in front of the same large fast food restaurants.
If we do not figure out how to spend responsibly in Santa Monica and at the state level, we will fall into the trap that England is in today. England is now cutting all benefits including pension and welfare for government workers. This is because the rich are becoming citizens of other countries to avoid taxation. How many of your neighbors north of Montana are foreign nationals or residents of another state?
We must spend money wiser now if we are to protect our city from loosing its individuality. Santa Monica College has already hit us for almost $1 billion over the last 10 years. Imagine what we could have done with that money. When do we stop letting them expand education services for Los Angeles County while Santa Monica kindergarten through 12th grade students suffer? To put things in perspective, 24,000 students (70-plus percent) attending SMC are not from Santa Monica, yet we just voted to give them $295 million. At that same time we are forced to cut $14 million in services to our 12,000 local students in our K-12 schools. Now we need to raise taxes in order to support our schools? SMC already has more undergraduate students than UCLA. When do Santa Monicans get priority registration and parking at SMC as a thank you for our $1 billion in generosity? When do we tell SMC they must stop growing and let the other areas expand their own community colleges?
We need to start paying attention to our basic needs before we reach out to other areas. We must be on guard, or our Santa Monica will be turned into Irvine by the sea. So remember, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights is looking out for you, the ruling majority that voted them into power.
David Alsabery is a high performance driving instructor and all around nice guy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.