As Santa Monica’s official city motto says, we are fortunate people in a fortunate city. Our beachside city is truly a special place to live, to work, and to thrive.

What makes our city unique, however, is much more than just good weather. As the new year approaches and before we return from the respite of the holiday season to the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we believe it’s important that we take a moment to reflect on some of what we, as members of this community, have to be grateful for.

Bike-share makes getting around easier. Santa Monica is a leader regionally and most recently, it was the first city in Los Angeles County to roll out a public bike-share program. The 500-bike system launched earlier this year, giving us all another option to get around town while avoiding the stress of driving. Additionally, bike-share is another reminder of our city’s leadership on planning for a sustainable future.

Expo light rail will soon be here. The 15-mile train line that will connect Downtown Santa Monica to the rest of the region by passenger rail for the first time in over half-a-century, is the culmination of decades of planning. Since the 1980s, Santa Monica’s leaders have worked closely with regional partners to help bring back to the Westside reliable regional public transit and this coming spring, we will finally get to take full advantage of our city’s — and our region’s — newest transit asset, another reminder of how we are planning for a future in which we have freedom from over reliance on fossil fuels for our transportation.

We are committed to education. While most communities would agree that one of the most important things we can invest in is our children’s future, Santa Monica is one of the only cities in the country that gives money directly to the school district every year. It’s more than a token sum, as well. Over the last decade, the city has given our schools between $6 and $10 million annually thanks to its joint use agreement with the school district. Over the years, voters have also consistently approved funding measures for the district and Santa Monica College. They’ve also approved parcel taxes, along with a transaction and use tax that yields more than an additional $6 million annually. The generosity of voters and the support of the city has helped Santa Monica schools to ensure our children get one of the best public school educations in California, even when state and county funding sources are less reliable.

We work toward an equitable community. Our city’s financial commitment to our schools is just one way that we strive to create an equitable community. Santa Monica is a leader in providing access to affordable childcare and early childhood education. Research shows that education begins at birth, and the better a child’s access to quality education from day one, the better that child’s odds of getting ahead. It may be cliché to say that it takes a village to raise a child, but that is a maxim by which we live in this city. Through the committed work of activists, civic leaders, and city officials, the Cradle to Career initiative was born in order to coordinate city services and nonprofits to assure that our children can get the best out of what our community has to offer and therefore have the best shot at getting ahead in life. But our commitment to equity through education continues through a commitment to lifelong learning and assuring that seniors aging in place also have access to educational resources.

We have abundant public resources. At a time when most other municipalities were struggling to keep existing libraries open due to the economic downturn, Santa Monica remained fiscally healthy enough that it was able to open a brand new library in the city’s historically underserved Pico neighborhood. The city spends between $12 and $12.5 million a year on our library system, a luxury we have thanks to decades of sound fiscal management, a diverse business community, and a healthy amount of growth that adds to our tax base. When that library opened last year, it represented a victory for community activists who had long demanded investment in their neighborhood as well as a victory for the city, which had the resources available to make it happen.

Santa Monica has a proud history of striving for inclusiveness. For decades, our community has actively worked to assure that, as we make our city a better place to live, it remains open to all people, regardless of how much money they make. Santa Monicans even went so far as to enshrine these values in the city charter when voters approved Proposition R, which required 30 percent of new homes built in Santa Monica be affordable. This commitment works to assure that our city’s most vulnerable residents – seniors aging in place and on fixed incomes, lower wage workers, families without secure employment, people who cannot work because of disabilities, as well as others facing the unpredictability of market forces – are protected in ways that allow them to remain in this city and benefit from the schools, protections, and services that define what Santa Monica is about.

Through hard work, thoughtful planning, and uncommon foresight, Santa Monica has become more than just a place; it is a community committed to working together to accomplish great things. And as such, we are not only fortunate people in a fortunate city, but we are also grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a community.

Debbie Mulvaney, Judy Abdo, Carl Hansen, Elena Christopoulos, Richard Brand, Dwight Flowers, Jerry Rubin, Frederick Zimmerman, Ernie Powell, Valerie Griffin, Jason Islas, Sharon Klein Hart, John Hart, and Michael Folonis for Santa Monica Forward. Read more columns at