Facts are important. When facts get in the way of an interesting narrative, facts must come first. In your reporting of the Downtown forum on heights and density, your desire to create an interesting story supplanted the facts (“Community divided over Downtown’s future,” May 7).
Your story attempted to advance the narrative that Santa Monica is “a community deeply divided.” But no one in attendance that evening, including developers, would have come away thinking that residents are “divided” on this issue. Indeed, even developers would have left thinking they were in trouble because of how united residents were in opposition to their plans.
From those who spoke, as well as audience reaction, it was clear that residents overwhelmingly don’t want areas of our Downtown set aside for projects untethered to zoning. Only a handful of speakers supported these “anything goes” sites. (Euphemistically labeled “opportunity sites.”) Residents of all ages overwhelmingly condemned this scheme to build multiple 20-plus-story projects and accelerate Downtown development.
Your article also tried mightily to frame the evening in terms of those who want Santa Monica to be more affordable against those who want to protect it. But this is a false narrative. It has been developers in Santa Monica who have fought to limit their affordable housing legal requirements and residents who have insisted that they do more. Village Trailer Park is a recent example. Now developers want to build $5 million condos on Ocean Avenue. That’s not affordable housing.
This remarkable, watershed event was about residents telling our city that we want to maintain what is left of our Downtown scale and character and to retain livability of Santa Monica in the face of crushing traffic and development proposals that would vastly increase the congestion. That’s why residents said slow down the hyper-development train.
We count on your newspaper to provide our community with facts. The 350 people at that meeting witnessed something far different than you reported.
Co-chair, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City