On Jan. 22, 2013, the Santa Monica City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a resolution that set a deadline of Feb. 1, 2014 for the supporters of the controversial “Chain Reaction” sculpture to raise the necessary funds, up to $425,000, for restoration. If the proponents failed to raise the full amount required to make “Chain Reaction” safe, then it will be removed, and returned to the original owner. An amendment to the resolution specifically stated: “The one year be the absolute limit, it’ll be the same council a year from now, we can just agree right now that we will not be hearing this again, this will not come back to us for another extension, it’s do or die.” City Manager Rod Gould stated: “The amount shall be sufficient to protect the public safety, that’s where we are going to land, we will not go and split the difference or do something political.”
Well, according to the Daily Press, City Manager Gould is now willing to do just that, to “split the difference,” and do something very political. He is planning to recommend that the council not adhere to the resolution, and that the city, in fact “split the difference,” and pay the balance of whatever it takes to make the statue safe. So far, the supporters have raised only 23 percent of the necessary restoration funds, of up to $425,000. Because they have failed to raise the full amount, this issue has become more political than ever.
Santa Monica is not in a position to spend tax revenue on frivolous items. At the most recent City Council meeting, Finance Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes said the city’s projected budget deficit in June of 2018 may reach $9.2 million. The city continues to be in the red, due to the lingering effects of the recession, the loss of $56.78 million to the California Department of Finance over RDA funds, and the pending approval to raise the hourly living wage for city employees and contract workers to $15.37/hour
We don’t have the luxury to allocate another $425,000, according to what Cultural Affairs Manager Jessica Cusick says is only a temporary 20-year fix. Additionally, The Landmarks Commission (a regulatory body) may be disqualified from any future governance of “Chain Reaction,” because of a letter the commission sent to City Council showing bias for, and advocating for this one particular landmark.
Most recently, many citizens have expressed disapproval toward the City Council vote in favor of the Hines Project at the Paper Mate facility. So much so, that a public referendum drive is underway in an effort to overturn City Council acceptance of this development. Our City Council must begin to pay attention to the opinions and sentiments of the majority of Santa Monicans, not those with the greatest amount of financial influence, nor those who are simply the most boisterous and excel at arm twisting, and pestering of our officials.
The issue relating to “Chain Reaction” has been a contentious subject in our city since 1990. Some individuals are for it, and more than you know, are against it. So for the sake of fairness, it is important that our City Council allow our municipal democracy to function in the most just way possible. Demonstrate to us that you do have integrity, and that you govern all of our citizens. If you can’t bring yourself to enforce the Feb. 1, 2014 do-or-die measure and amendment, then at the very least, allow the people to make the final decision on “Chain Reaction,” yay or nay, with an initiative on the upcoming June 3 primary ballot, That way, there won’t be any sour grapes on either side of the controversy.