As we sit back and watch the City Council grant dubious developers free access over the city — from the tree scandals that decimated Downtown to allowing NMS Properties to eat up city blocks to taxi companies outbid by cronies with ties to City Hall — one is taken aback by the fine recently leveled at Party Land, a novelty store on Lincoln Boulevard.

The mom-and-pop shop was fined $75 for tying balloons to meters in front of their store. Never mind that the meters are designed to gouge customers by resetting when a car leaves and there have been hundreds of complaints of malfunctions. This store was fined for flying balloons during the day (which they take down at the close of business). It’s a balloon store!

Owners Darin and Nancy Tiep are the essence of what Santa Monica was, offering penny candy to kids, balloons and even giving a quarter for the meters outside (as happened to me when I was out of change). A fine for flying balloons? Running afoul of the banner and advertising law they were threatened with a fine for having a “We’re Open” sign as well. And when I heard about it the other day in their shop, I felt another line had been crossed.

Never mind that NMS Properties has a huge banner across the street advertising their tiny apartment spaces they’ve built as they gobble up street corners Downtown. (Anyone actually look at their contracts?) It’s an obscene metaphor for the Bay City that once represented “The People’s Republic of Santa Monica.”

That angry slogan was created by irate rent control-hating landlords, but at least it represented a community that made laws to protect citizens instead of harassing them. Seventy-five bucks for putting out balloons? Seriously?

What a bunch of creeps using creepy laws to drive small stores out of business to replace them with soulless monuments to progress that will be devoid of trees, and eventually people in Santa Monica. My two cents.


Richard Martini

Santa Monica

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