There’s evidence that City Hall’s housing policy of placing low/mid-income family public housing projects primarily in the Pico neighborhood (east of Lincoln Boulevard and west of Centinela Avenue between Pico and Santa Monica boulevards) is a major factor in maintaining racially imbalanced schools in Santa Monica.

According to comments submitted to the City Council on Tuesday night by local attorney, Mathew Millen, “Site selection by City Hall’s Housing Authority perpetuates the black and Hispanic segregation of historically segregated neighborhoods and neighborhood schools.”

From the 1920s through the late ‘40s, most residential properties north of Santa Monica Boulevard and south of Pico Boulevard had “restrictive covenants” that prohibited blacks, Latinos and Asians. Minorities were restricted to what is called “the Pico Neighborhood” and near the present Civic Center. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court declared restrictive covenants unconstitutional, nationwide.

Forty years later, a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) “1988 Board of Education Desegregation and Integration Study” (conducted in 1987) clearly demonstrated schools serving Pico were “segregated” or “in danger” of being segregated in a neighborhood considered already “segregated by design” by its residents and neighborhood leaders.

“The study defined schools with 64.9 to 100 percent minority enrollment as "segregated." A 59.0 to 64.9 percent minority school was "in danger.” Any school under 24.9 percent was "racially isolated.” It concluded, “Historic housing patterns probably preclude any immediate solutions for desegregating the district.”

Figures below compare minority percentages of students in schools according to the 1988 SMMUSD study with SMMUSD enrollment figures in October, 2010. Figures from that year are in parenthesis. Edison: 91.3 (69.93), McKinley: 70.3 (62.95), Will Rogers: 69.3 (68.81), Muir: 63.1 (57.59), Grant: 47.1 (44.06), Roosevelt: 33.9 (30.86) and Franklin 28.0 (16.58). The pattern continues through to the two middle schools. John Adams in the southern part of Santa Monica: 52.8 (67.27) percent minority. Lincoln, north of Wilshire: 42.6 (36.58) percent minority

The overwhelming majority of our very low- to mid-income public housing is developed by City Hall affiliate Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM). Millen states that historically, “Most of CCSM’s projects were/are assigned to the Pico Neighborhood."

Millen says there is a long history of restricting funding for public housing to the Pico area. City Hall’s Pico Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund (PNHTF) limited the geographic development of assisted housing financed by PNHTF exclusively to the Pico Neighborhood.

Because properties values were lower in the Pico area (which coincidentally already had a relatively large economically disadvantaged minority community), it also became the favored location for half-way houses, assisted living facilities, psychological support services, drug/alcohol treatment and counseling centers and other social service providers — driving land values down.

Comparatively speaking, because families needing supportive housing are more likely to be non-Caucasian, their children add to the racial imbalance of Santa Monica’s schools when they move into public housing and enroll in higher minority neighborhoods schools.

City Hall and its ruling Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights political machine’s top priority is affordable housing — virtually all of its apartments. Millen estimates that one third of the estimated City Hall supported 2,100 public housing family units are in the Pico neighborhood.

It’s not by accident that the “North of Montana Avenue” neighborhood has the lowest number of low-income multiple bedroom units of any neighborhood followed by the apartment-heavy Wilshire/Montana area. Renters’ Rights power brokers obviously realize advocating for public housing on the northside is bad politics

Minority enrollment has declined over the quarter century in most SMMUSD schools, however Edison, McKinley and Will Rogers on the southside still are “segregated” or “in danger" as defined by the 1988 study.

It’s all a direct result of politically driven housing policies that place poor, predominantly minority families into high minority neighborhoods. For example: CCSM is developing 92 units of low- to mid-income housing on High Place across from Edison Elementary School — a “segregated school.” This project will inevitably add even more minority students to Edison making it even more “segregated.”

Millen suggested that City Hall help correct the disparity in minority populations in Santa Monica schools by declaring a moratorium on new low-income housing projects in the Pico Neighborhood and require that the next 500 units of multi-bedroom, lowincome, family housing be built on Santa Monica’s northside including Montana Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard.

No buses stop here

After a 25 minute wait at a Lincoln Boulevard and Ashland Avenue bus stop last Tuesday morning around 11:25, I was passed up again by a Number 3 Big Blue Bus crammed with Santa Monica College students.

It’s bad enough that the No. 3 (LAX to Montana Avenue/UCLA) runs at half hour intervals on this major route, but during the three or four weeks of the school year when SMC terms begin, residents go without public transit because buses are packed before they even get to Santa Monica.

This has been going on for years. It’s obvious that BBB’s management is totally incapable of making service adjustments during these high demand periods. They would rather their buses just not stop, thus inconveniencing hundreds — maybe thousands — of local riders for days on end who depend on Big Blue.

Big Blue needs to fix things and do it pronto. It’s absolutely inexcusable to leave customers stranded at the curb.

My condolences to those who must use this unreliable bus service. They’re probably seeing red with Blue, too.

Bill can be reached at

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