Appearances, like politicians, can be deceiving.
The City Council adjourned without taking a vote on the controversial Bergamot Transit Village project last month.
The place was packed, upstairs and down. Mayor Pam O’Conner at one point warned the crowd not to react audibly to statements addressed to the council. But that only applied to those there with them in the chamber.
Those filling every seat downstairs, leaning against walls and wandering around on the crowded floor level, watching and listening via two large screen TVs, howled, clapped, booed, cheered and laughed throughout the proceedings like the rowdy sugar-hyped kids in the theater on the Andy Devine TV show. Sometimes the procedures seemed almost as devoid of sense as Andy’s show, so how did you expect us raucous kiddies to react? Plunk your magic twanger, Pam.
More than 100 citizens waited patiently for their two minutes to address the council, driving another meeting into the early morning hours. The council decided to not decide, until a special session the following Tuesday evening (last night).
I intended to stay ‘til the bitter end, but word circulated around 11 of what was going to happen, the not-yet vote, and it turned out to be correct.
Was it because the council thoughtfully wanted to give more citizens a chance to be heard on such a crucial issue? (Not just for the size of that development, but to determine a direction our city will go.) No, there will be no input allowed at that meeting, it was announced. Did they want an extra week to mull it over, maybe do more research, more citizen outreach? Did they figure they’d just be too sleepy to vote? Gosh, could be. But, an extra session, what an inconvenience for all. Why delay the vote a week?
Personally, I think council members are very much aware that a groundswell of opposition is building to all the runaway development in the pipeline. People are becoming organized in their opposition, and they now have a tool: residocracy.org, a good solution (with a terrible name).
“Residocracy,” the site states, “is a unified voice of the Residents against corporate, business, and outside influences at City Hall. Residocracy.org was born in Santa Monica in 2014 to address the overwhelming lack of concern shown by the elected officials in City Hall towards issues and concerns important to Residents.”
It’s pretty simple. You sign up (you don’t even have to use your last name), and officially become part of the movement to “take back our city,” or however you’d like to characterize it. Then you have the opportunity to sign or start petitions about issues that concern you.
And then you will learn that a council vote for a development approval, or any other issue, can be put on hold and placed on the ballot for a vote of all the citizens, with enough signatures on a petition.
But there are procedural rules already in place, and one important one is that such a petition drive is given 30 days from the second vote of approval by the council to gather the required number of signatures.
The council must take their second vote at the next meeting after their first vote. You can bet the farm that the second vote will not be different than the first. But the starting gun for the 30-day petition drive doesn’t go off until that second vote.
Ordinarily, that second vote would be taken at the next council meeting, two weeks later. That gives those opposed and wanting to circulate a petition two weeks to prepare for that inevitable second vote, when the clock starts ticking.
But the council delayed their vote a week. A week closer to the next council meeting, when that second vote will take place. A week less time for opposition forces to prepare for their 30-day deadline race for signatures.
Do you think that’s the reason they didn’t vote a week ago? Maybe I’m reading too much into it — but I do. There’s no way to know for sure without reading minds, is there? Gosh, I get sleepy past 1 a.m. too. (Not.)
By the time you read this, that first vote should be history. Many people were calling for everyone opposed to the Hines development to show up last night, so at least their numbers could be seen. I hope it was a very large crowd. I was there (he writes, the day before — this does get a little strange). I hope you were too.
I wrote last week about having taken the Downtown Walking Tour led by the Santa Monica Conservancy every Saturday morning. Highly recommended.
One piece of the puzzle they mentioned was not even in our city limits: why was this place named Santa Monica? The answer, we were told, lies in West L.A., so at my wife’s urging, we decided to go check it out.
It’s only open on the first Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free, but donations are welcomed. The entrance is a small gate at 1439 S. Barrington Ave. — easy to miss.
There’s not much to see, but the longer you hang around and absorb the history (the volunteers, some Native American, can give you a real sense of it), the more you connect. It’s a delightful, peaceful oasis, a series of pools from natural springs that was a draw for parts of the Tongva tribe to settle here (not beachfront like that Marion Davies).
When the Spanish “discovered” the area it was the feast of Saint Monica, and they dubbed those pools the tears of Saint Monica, and so named the entire area down to the sea for her. Lucky for us, or we’d have to replace that statue at the end of Wilshire.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org