The current planning concept is backward. How can you plan a city without first knowing how many people the infrastructure can support? But infrastructure doesn’t appear to be part of the current planning equation when considering the multiple development agreements before the City Council.

The first priority, which can impact health, is to determine how many people can be supported by our supply of water, power and sewage removal, based on our current and immediately foreseeable infrastructure, technology, and reasonable cost. Water is a scarce commodity, and we are not self-sufficient with water and may not be for several years. In the past, some of our ground water has been contaminated … .

As for power, we currently have periodic blackouts and brownouts.

Sewage processing is insufficient; Santa Monica Bay has an F rating during rainy periods.

Then the parking and traffic solutions must be worked out based on real data and reasonable predictions considering all the developments on a citywide basis, not the arm waving we’re getting that says no new peak traffic.

And each of the separate infrastructures must be able to handle the load before any development is completed. Hoping these problems are solvable 30 years down the road is useless and irresponsible.

The current planning and development agreement process considers each development individually, and this is not a self-limiting process. It also sidesteps the infrastructure issues and the overall demands on the city. Each development should pay its share of any required increases in the infrastructure network before approval. This must be done on a citywide basis because the demand may not be excessive for each proposed individual development. The developers should be paying for needed infrastructure increases, not City Hall.

Therefore it is vital that infrastructure capabilities be the basis for determining how many day and permanent people the city can support so we don’t build past those limits. That represents a realistic and responsible planning and approval process at all levels. It is ultimately the City Council’s responsibility to oversee the big picture and control development to stay within the infrastructure capability at all times.

The infrastructure capabilities should limit the responsible rate of growth of Santa Monica. Building past any of those limits represents irresponsible planning and approval, causing Santa Monica to be less desirable as a place to live, work, shop and visit. It can also negatively impact the health of residents, employees and visitors.


Jim Gerstley

Santa Monica