With the help of our friends, in less than 10 years we’ve added the Airport Park, Tongva Park, Euclid Park, the universally accessible playground at Ashland, the Beach Green, acquired the old Fisher Lumber site to expand Memorial Park, added miles of bike lanes and made improvements to existing facilities.
We’ve done a pretty good job given the high cost of land in SM and a worsening fiscal picture of addressing the shortcomings of earlier generations of government who failed to buy land for parks when it was cheaper.
Even So, I believe that the community has been seeking and starving for park space for 50 years and it is time to catch up and include this important policy goal as part of the plan, in the same way that we are caring to provide for low-income subsidies for housing and etc. and etc.; as part of our plan. We are discussing now, increasing our population by more than 10 percent. It is a short sale of the value we are creating when we increase landowners’ property values when we increase density and mass. It is a serious avoidable short fall.
I believe that generally, just as I find in my professional work, our decision makers, like the average citizen, are not consciously fully ”body aware.” And, like the average person, it is difficult to become conscious of the absolute extent of the importance of exercise, family recreation, and just stretching our lungs to breathe in the smells of grass and trees, that only a park can provide.
It seems as though Santa Monica is especially unconscious compared to every other city in California, and for that matter has more density already than most cities in the United States. I call this to our attention, knowing that, it is difficult to comprehend. But, consider that the state of California has tried to express, that 3 to 5 acres per 1,000 residents needs to be dedicated to parkland and green space. You wonder why our city not only has not made it part of the plan, but has set about to, in some ways, avoid making it part of the plan.
In my work, I am used to this type of resistance on a daily basis. We need to note, that even though It is less common now for people and communities to not make parks part of the plan elsewhere, it is still a critical problem here in Santa Monica.
Many years ago, I wrote a paper that had a premise; ”People would rather die than stretch.” There is a cultural and unnatural laziness and resistance to the work of taking care to provide the primary lifestyle elements for a full, healthy, balanced community. To this end, about 40 years ago I wrote myself a motto that I would be ”dedicated to the physical well-being of the people of my community.” So, I have made it my business to keenly and painstakingly understand these issues.
I say to you, with the authority of 45 years of dedicated experience, further certified by maybe more than a dozen healing arts and professional programs, and with the praise of my teachers; there is no more wiggle room, we have crossed the threshold, parks need to be made part of the plan not just a hopeful direction.