“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
—The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These two sentences from the middle of Dr. King’s incredible “I Have A Dream” speech could easily get lost in the soaring rhetoric of its conclusion. But for the activist freedom fighter who truly understands what our country looked like in the summer of 1963 and the mortal danger Dr. King placed himself in by leaving his house every day, the “fierce urgency of now” referred to in that address is a call to action. Among the many lessons Dr. King’s life and legacy teaches is that none of us are promised tomorrow and once we’re gone, our lives will be judged by the impact we made on the world around us.
Those of us who live in Santa Monica rightly count ourselves among the most intelligent people in America because we are smart enough to live in Santa Monica, which is the best place on Earth. Don’t get me wrong, we pay through the nose when it comes to the cost of living. But the quality of life for everyone — whether you’re a 20-something college student, a 30-something working professional, a family with children, a showbiz professional, or an unemployed skate bum — is better here in Santa Monica than it is anywhere else.
But that quality of life and reasonable access to it for all of Santa Monica’s current residents is at an important crossroads. The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) that will serve as the blueprint for Santa Monica’s future growth and development is in the final stages of completion by our city government and that work is being done with precious little input from our fellow Santa Monicans. In fact, there is only one road from where our city is now to where we all want it to be in the next decade or two — and that road runs through Santa Monicans For Renters’ Rights straight to our City Council.
In this space last week I asked you to join me in bringing a new energy to SMRR in time for this November’s City Council elections. I was surprised at how many of you were ready to get on board with this idea before the New Energy Caucus even stood for anything and I want to thank you all. I recently found out that time is of the essence. Every two years, SMRR meets to update its platform — and that meeting is taking place on April 25. In order to vote on the platform, a prospective member’s application must be received by April 4. So anyone who wants to have a say in the direction of the organization that controls five of the seven seats on the City Council needs to get his or her act together by next Friday and no later.
Because I know that some of the people who valet park their Bentleys and Ferraris at the new Santa Monica Place will “discover” Santa Monica for the first time and may or may not respect those of us who call it home, I’ll be there. Because I know that the commercial interests who are salivating at the thought of exploiting our quiet beach community will be there, I’ll be there. Even if the New Energy Caucus is reduced to just me and my energy, I’ll be there.
Growing up in Boston, I was an avid reader of The Boston Globe and its most popular columnist, Mike Barnicle. Mike is no saint, but he gets credit for doing the legwork and he’s a pretty good example of how to hold a conversation with readers. As I spent months studying the development agreement between City Hall and Saint John’s, I kept telling myself that this is what Mike would do if he was in my shoes.
When I finally got a chance to ask the powers that be in Santa Monica about the nuisance that hospital has become, I got responses that I’ll never forget. I asked Planning Director Eileen Fogarty if the City Council had been reviewing the development agreement at least every 12 months as required by law. Her response (and that of her senior staff) was exactly the same as the response I got from City Councilmembers Kevin McKeown and Gleam Davis when I asked them who, exactly, they dealt with when negotiating with Saint John’s: a silent, blank stare.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I pay way too much money in rent and taxes to not be able to hold someone accountable when the quality of my life is compromised by developers who don’t live here and don’t care about the noise, pollution, and traffic problems they generate. So I’m joining SMRR as a member of the New Energy Caucus. The deadline for you to be able to have a say in how your city is governed is next Friday, April 2.
Are you in?
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider with four-quadrant crossover appeal who wants you to join him in the New Energy Caucus by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. His past columns are archived at http://www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.