In the spirit of the holidays, I’ve compiled my “Ye Olde Holiday Wish List.” This year’s list reflects a huge abundance of optimism that things will change for the better.
I wish the Planning Department and Planning Commission will shepherd good developments — that the community wants instead of ones we despise. I’d like to see projects that fit in, not ones that stand out like sore thumbs regardless of the social benefits promised.
I wish that the proposed, ultra-modern Rem Koolhaas-designed Plaza at Santa Monica between Fourth and Fifth streets along Arizona Avenue were being built at the Bergamot Transit Village.
It would be one heck of an improvement over the “Orange County industrial park” that’s being proposed for the 7.1 acre Paper Mate site at Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street. Imagine just one striking building — so what if it’s 12 floors tall — surrounded by acres of parks and gardens? That’s the “wow” factor.
I wish that City Hall shills would stop blowing smoke up our collective derrieres with phony promises that more development will result in less traffic and “zero demand” for resources.
Councilwoman Gleam Davis opined at last Tuesday’s council meeting that we need to “start building housing.” With hundreds of apartments recently completed and 3,000 more in the pipeline, leave it to Davis to say something clueless and idiotic.
Why does she want even more housing, which by the way, equates to more and more development? The light rail is coming, she notes, and building housing near it will reduce traffic. Yes, Gleam. None of those thousands of new residents will ever drive or even own cars. And, we all know that with more development, we’ll have less car trips and pigs will fly.
I wish that common sense would prevail and for those on elected and appointed boards to listen to “the people” before “the people” pass a ballot measure that would require major developments to be approved by voters in public referendums.
Two months ago, I e-mailed the City Manager’s Office and asked for an estimate of the legal costs to be incurred by suing the federal government on entitlements at the Santa Monica Airport. I’ve been told the litigation could easily cost millions of dollars and could take years to fight. So far, no answer.
Six weeks ago. I e-mailed the Planning Department and requested documents relating to a conditional use permit (CUP) application for the Oceana Hotel on Ocean Avenue. Although, the application was approved in 1996, there may be some relevancy relating to a similar request for an alcohol CUP at the controversial Palihouse Hotel (formerly Embassy Hotel and Apartments) at Third Street and Washington Avenue.
A major chunk of the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood is in a hotel overlay district. With this present pro-business City Hall, many properties could become the site of a hotel or inn proposals that could include entertainment, dining and/or alcohol service.
Hotel/restaurant operations in residential neighborhoods with attendant noise, traffic, congestion and parking problems is a threat to the peace and enjoyment of our homes. Once again, no response from City Hall.
If City Hall ignores requests for information from the press, what chance does a member of the public have in getting their questions answered? Answer: Zip.
It makes me, and others, wonder what they’re trying to hide, now? Therefore, I wish City Hall would knock off the siege mentality and respond properly to the public’s requests for information.
I wish we had more traffic enforcement such as motorcycle officers to cite bicyclists who ride on the sidewalks, run stops signs and signal lights, cut off pedestrians and ride at night wearing dark clothing on bikes without lights or reflectors.
Illegal and dangerous driving is even out of control in our more bucolic residential neighborhoods. I walk a couple times a week north of Montana Avenue. Speeding there is epidemic. Drivers rarely stop at stop signs let alone for pedestrians. If I don’t yield for cars even at intersections with stop signs, I’ll wind up as a hood ornament on someone’s Mercedes. I suspect most of this goes on because folks there know they can get away with it.
I wish City Hall would seriously address increasing traffic congestion. City planners seem more intent on making it worse by narrowing and removing traffic lanes and left turn pockets, adding curb bump-outs to make it difficult to enter and leave side streets and installing planted medians to make it harder to see who/what may be crossing the street in the oncoming direction.
It’s why we get misguided bicycle enhancement projects like the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo). A recent memo from transportation planning associate Jason Kligier about an upcoming community meeting on MANGo says it all. “The project will enhance Michigan Avenue and nearby streets to become places for people to walk their dogs, to comfortably ride a bicycle, to chat with neighbors and for children to play.
“This may be achieved with traffic calming devices, additional plants and trees, seating, and safety improvements.”
The likelihood of eliminating street parking, impeding traffic flow and restricting convenient access to homes and apartments is what the rainbow chasers are willing to risk for a glorified bicycle path.
Those are just some of my holiday wishes. Oh, just one more. Have a Merry Christmas (if that’s your thing) and enjoy the holiday season.
Next week: The 2013 Sammies for things good, bad and downright insegrevious in Santa Monica.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.