I am very happy to be a part of a community in which not only does the city provide amazing resources that are not available in other places, but the civic engagement is astounding. Santa Monica is a place where community members truly care. I was not born here, nor did I grow up here, but I am still a Santa Monican.

I moved to Los Angeles after college in 2010 and spent four years trying to move into Santa Monica. While I wasn’t physically a resident during those four years, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a community member or stakeholder — I worked in Santa Monica, and I went to parks, restaurants, and shops in Santa Monica, but it took me four years and five different job changes to be able to find an apartment in the city I could afford.

This majestic city in which we live, work and play is not without its problems, but I think we can work together to move forward and come up with the best solutions to solve them. I’m a supporter of Santa Monica Forward because I know that in order to maintain and improve our incredibly high standard of living, we need to anticipate the problems of tomorrow and learn from the mistakes and missteps of the past.

I am particularly passionate about housing because I want to remain in Santa Monica and, while I’m extremely comfortable with my current living situation, I don’t see myself living in a tiny studio for the rest of my life. I consistently hear from people who are already a part of our community that they can’t afford to live here. The housing/jobs imbalance is absurd. The fact that the city has been unable to build much housing in the past 25 years has only made it worse. Economic laws of supply and demand say that if you restrict the supply (don’t build housing), while increasing demand, prices go up — which is exactly what we’ve seen happen here. I’m not saying building more housing will solve all of our problems, but it’s good first step.

I’m very proud to be a supporter of a group that is fighting for a diverse, sustainable and equitable Santa Monica.

Natalya Zernitskaya
Santa Monica

Allow pot dispensary on Wilshire


Santa Monicans for Safe Access (SAMOSA) would like to comment on your article, “Council spars over density, housing in Zoning Ordinance Update” (April 17). In that article, you noted that Council may consider dropping Wilshire as an area where dispensaries might locate. Council may also consider adding a buffer between the two allowed dispensaries.

SAMOSA does support adding a buffer between the two dispensaries. We suggest a distance of 1,000 feet. However, if Wilshire were dropped, adding this buffer would make it impossible for two dispensaries to locate on Santa Monica Blvd. — the sole remaining area. Indeed, adding this buffer and keeping Wilshire is a measured, reasonable approach resulting in the smartest balance between access versus location appropriateness.

We noticed that on the same day that your article was published CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta again wrote an article strongly supporting safe access to medical marijuana. He noted “It can be tricky to be on the right side of science, but on the wrong side of ideology.” Beyond this, SAMOSA should like to mention a few additional reasons why keeping Wilshire makes logical sense, as follows:

¬∑ Sensitive Uses Already Exclude Much of Wilshire: With the 600′ proximity exclusion (about two blocks) from sensitive uses, significant stretches of Wilshire are already excluded. Just looking at Reed Park, Lincoln Middle School and Douglas Park effectively excludes Lincoln to 10th St., Euclid to 17th St. and 22nd St. to 26th St. Citywide, it is extremely difficult to situate a dispensary anywhere because of the density of sensitive uses.

¬∑ Wilshire is a Major Transit Street: Because it has excellent public transit, Wilshire is a thoughtful spot for reasonable access. It means that having to drive to a dispensary is made far less likely. This goes towards the City’s goal of creating a sustainable city.

· Access is Better Spread for Residents: Allowing dispensaries along both Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards gives residents better access. To concentrate them only along Santa Monica Boulevard poorly achieves reasonable access.

¬∑ It Follows What West Hollywood Has Done: As Chief Seabrooks stated to the Council, having a dispensary along major boulevards adds to public safety because it allows better “eyes-on” by the Police. This is among the reasons why West Hollywood permits dispensaries only along its major boulevards (e.g., Fairfax, Sunset and Santa Monica Blvds.). Santa Monica is modeling its ordinance on West Hollywood, so it makes sense to follow their reasoned approach too.

Finally, the Planning Commission and City Staff have rigorously studied the balance between safe access versus location appropriateness. Their long and hard work strikes a measured, reasonable and balanced approach. After all, any dispensary must go through a conditional use permitting process; so the City is maintaining control over the process anyway. Moreover, medical uses abound along Wilshire. It is, therefore, fitting and logical that dispensaries be allowed there too. Our many resident-members agree with the near unanimity of Commissioners and the City Staff that Wilshire ought to be allowed as a potential area for a dispensary.

Bill Leahy
Santa Monicans for Safe Access

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