Regarding Simone Gordon’s condescending psychoanalysis of Santa Monica: As a self-appointed “leader” (“…we as the leaders of Santa Monica need to help our city’s populace learn to negotiate development in a constructive manner”), you’re telling us to listen to you and the Chamber of Commerce folks, and quit being so distrusting and paranoid about the potential over-development and over-crowding of our city. What would be a more constructive manner to negotiate development? To compare the residents who have voiced their concerns about development in our neighborhoods, like the caring people of the city’s neighborhood coalitions, to psychiatric patients in denial is really horrifying. I have seen these groups working tirelessly, un-aided by paid lobbyists, studying the zoning ordinance, taking time away from their own families, speaking at meetings, and making smart, reasonable requests for limits and protections in our neighborhoods at meeting after meeting. They are far from throwing themselves against a padded wall, nor will they sit back and let the destruction of our neighborhoods happen like good compliant mental patients “whether they like it or not.” I doubt that they will stop advocating for residents and livable neighborhoods.
I also doubt that building more affordable and inclusive housing is really causing paranoia, just as I doubt that it is more affordable housing for which you are advocating. What is causing distress are the mega-projects that will choke our already choking neighborhoods, the amendments to the LUCE and items in the ZOU that do not protect our neighborhoods as the LUCE intended, and the lack of responsiveness to the actual residents of Santa Monica by planning commissioners.
As to “fear of abandonment” and that things will “change,” and your patronizing dismissal of those who might be “left behind,” I must say your callousness and lack of empathy is dismaying. We don’t fear change or being “shut out in the cold,” but we have seen many instances of objectionable policy damaging our neighbors and neighborhoods. It is accepted fact that things can and will change whether “we like it or not,” and many of us hope that the democratically elected officials will accommodate that change responsibly and represent the needs and desires of residents over greedy developers.
Perhaps you missed some things in your “thoughtful examination of the evidence” since it’s common sense that building more market rate housing on the boulevards, way far from transit, will cause more problems with parking, traffic, and crowding, while offering less resident-serving commercial businesses for those of us who live and “recreate” here. Thoughtful examination of the evidence shows that higher income people in market rate housing are more likely to own cars and less likely to use public transit. Perhaps you should see the ACT-LA (Alliance for Community Transit Los Angeles) report: like Los Angeles, we too are at a “critical juncture, with an opportunity to move toward a more sustainable and equitable future. But the goals of transit-oriented development will only be achieved if guided by strong public policy and careful planning.” We should not line every boulevard with mixed-use developments, much too far from transit, offering a minute number of affordable and family-sized units; nor should we build high intensity “Activity Centers” that tower over existing homes causing spillover in vehicle traffic, parking, and encroachment of commercial development into residential districts.
Monica Fernandez is a Santa Monica resident.