I remember when visitors were told by car rental agents and hotel staff to get out of Santa Monica before dark!

I remember when the beach was littered with tons of trash, and the water was too toxic to swim in. Honestly, can anyone recall the last time we’ve had a closed beach?

I remember permanent graffiti, broken sidewalks, thrashed bus benches, rundown buildings that were never fixed, and curbs filled with trash.

I remember abandoned vehicles, stripped of their parts, left on side streets for years, with weeds growing out of them, marked with graffiti that read: “urban blight.”

I remember random acts of violence, shoplifting, purse snatching, and cars being broken into as a daily occurrence.

I remember every corner on Rose from Lincoln to Neilson Way having a crack dealer.

I remember when Buca di Beppo was the Pussycat X-rated theater.

I remember when Santa Monica was the capital of massage parlor prostitution in L.A. — so much so that it was made fun of in sitcoms! That only ended seven years ago!

I remember when pimps ran whores at the bus stop at Santa Monica Boulevard and Third Street (when it was called the Third Street Mall).

I remember when Santa Monica had street gangs (V-13; Suicidal Tendencies, named after the Venice punk band; Westside Posers and the Westside Crazies).

I remember when Cahill’s Dogtown graffiti tags weren’t a fashion statement; they marked gang territory.

I remember when Venice was the murder capital of L.A. — year after year! Now Abbot Kinney is nice. (I’m still shocked!)

I remember the night when Chris Jepson was gunned down in front of the 321 Club (now Hooters) by teenage gang members from Thai Village, because I was there.

I remember every Fourth of July at the beach as a day of drunkenness, drug use and gang fights on the sand, year after year, until it got so bad the City Council canceled the fireworks on the pier, and we haven’t had fireworks since.

I remember I and 200 kids running for our lives out of a DJ party at the old union hall on Second Street (now Power Yoga) when Crips and Bloods got too close to each other and tore the place apart.

From the toxic slum Santa Monica was 25 years ago, we have risen to a gleaming city by the sea. We stand as an example to the whole world of urban revitalization, co-operation between public, private and nonprofit organizations. We have proven that faith and reason, capitalism and social responsibility, growth and sustainability are achievable in the same place at the same time.

Robert Redford knows nothing, remembers nothing and is dead to me ( “Redford not a fan of Santa Monica,” Community Briefs, March 29)!

Join me in calling your cable or satellite provider and tell them that you want to cancel the Sundance Channel. Do not enter or go to the Sundance Film Festival. Ask AMC, Laemmle and the Aero to ban any film that was in Sundance. Ask that all shops and restaurants in Santa Monica ban Robert Redford. Disavow this worthless scumbag!

Matthew Gibbons

Santa Monica

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *