The letters column of the Daily Press increasingly resembles an old-time “Perils of Pauline” serial, with letter writers seemingly expecting readers to hiss and boo every time they read the word “developers.” Partly the writers demonize developers for being in it for the money, as if this were not true of the Huntley Hotel owners’ antagonism toward the Miramar project and the Sunset Park homeowners who hope to reap greatly increased property values by having the local airport turned into a park.
The more fundamental flaw with the letter writers’ hatred of developers is the writers’ unstated assumption that only current residents of Santa Monica have a legitimate say in the city’s future. None of us will reside here permanently (above ground at least) and the city has to take into account the future residents who will greatly outnumber the current ones. This has been a continuous process; otherwise the multi-unit building I live in wouldn’t be here. And while developers may increase my enjoyment of living here with the venues they create, more importantly they and the City Council also act for the city’s future occupants. After all, if developers are wrong and people don’t move here because of a dearth of old trailers to live in or because traffic is unmanageable, the developers will lose bundles and their properties will be turned into something else. If the developers are successful, it is only because they have helped to create a city where future residents and visitors want to be. I wouldn’t expect that future city to be perfect, but I prefer the city’s optimistic willingness to embrace the future to the letter writers’ negative fear of it.