Long ago, in another galaxy — or so it feels at this point — an eager crowd of Santa Monicans attended a presentation at Virginia Avenue Park for development of the old Papermate site.

We saw successful examples from other cities of charming European-style urban “villages” featuring walkable streets, abundant shade trees, attractive lighting, inviting street cafes and well-designed, low-rise housing. The reaction was enthusiastic!

Fast forward a few years and the truth hits us in the face: it was all for show. The municipal Powers That Be never had any intention of creating a pleasant, people-oriented, park-like multiple-use “village.” Instead a well-connected outside developer has been allowed (or encouraged?) to shove down our civic throats a sterile, cookie-cutter money machine that may fit into the agenda of the Powers That Be, but is completely out of scale with our beloved city.

Rather than laugh the Hines project out of town, the Powers That Be have allowed them to tinker around the edges of their urban desert, making token concessions to token demands, some of which are not in our long-term interests.

Traumatized as we all are by the threat of still more traffic congestion in our gridlocked little city, aren’t we forgetting that the original idea was for a livable, strollable, non-traffic-generating village. We must demand that our (choose your adjective) Powers That Be send the sterile money machine back to Texas and revive the concept of a human-scaled village.

Election Day is Nov. 4.


Sara Meric

Santa Monica

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