Erosion is what happens when running water takes a piece of the surrounding earth with it. It is a slow process usually, but over time can create a very large impact. For example, the Grand Canyon was created by erosion, and is really a testament to the power of water and time.

Accretion is the opposite. It is the build-up of material that eventually clogs and stops the flow of water, air or light.

The concept of erosion is why I supported the landmark status for Chez Jay. I didn’t want to see the history of Santa Monica that is encapsulated at Chez Jay to be eroded with the mad push for growth and development at the cost of our collective memory. I see the city of Santa Monica as being fundamentally changed in slow, and not so slow, ways. The development that is going on, both public and private, is gargantuan for what used to be a sleepy little town on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Today we are fast becoming a metropolis.

Each day as I drive from my divorce law office on Pico Boulevard toward Ocean Avenue, I pass an empty lot that will soon be developed, and another lot with a building rising like a Transformer next to the Sheraton Delfina. Turning onto Ocean Avenue there is major development happening at The Village. As I pedal away on the stationary bikes at the Loews Hotel I see the future of the city erupting from the ground. It’s scary.

I fear the change that is inexorably happening around me. There is no way to stop it really. Change is a constant in life — I’m just not a big fan — until it’s the new norm. Then I usually like it.

But with all change comes loss. Loss of the status quo, loss of our history, loss of our reference points on life. I felt that loss when the Pioneer Boulangerie was demolished. I used to love going there for lunch, and staying all afternoon reading. It was a lifestyle element that is no more. Today we have two restaurants where we had one; that is progress in some ways.

When I checked out the plans for The Village and saw the idealized pictures that are computer generated, I found myself wanting to live there. It looks neat and clean, and has a community feel to it that reminded me of college. Perhaps I’d be really happy living there if I can bring my dog and get one of those low-income apartments.

I imagine the people who will eventually live there will enjoy it. They will bask in the wonderful weather we have here and relish their proximity to the mall and the beach. They wont recognize the change in traffic; it will have always been that way for them. Much like fish don’t fear fire, the new residents wont fear the loss of the tranquil, bucolic way of life that is the Santa Monica of yesteryear.

As we move away from small town to mini-metropolis thanks to the influx of new Internet money and software development, we can expect to see the city’s coffers swell again. We should demand this from our City Council. The price of our development should at least be a well-stocked cupboard of city resources. The price of our tranquility should be returned to the residents and not pocketed by politicians.

We are seeing our lives change before us. Old businesses are closing like Carlson’s and new ones are springing up all around us. We have incubators and co-op office spaces like Cross Campus and CoLoft to thrust us forward into the future as we become known as Silicon Beach.

As our old way of life erodes, a new one is being deposited. I’m hopeful that I will like it, but it is with a twinge of nostalgia and fear for the loss of the old, that I embrace the future.


David Pisarra is a divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra



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