ANGRY! SAD….

More the latter, these days.

Doesn’t mean I’ve thrown in the proverbial towel. Not at all. But being angry gets me nowhere.

I do dab away a tear with it sometimes, because I’ve come to love this small city on the California coast that I moved to 30 years ago, and what is happening here the last five to eight years is sad to me because it doesn’t have to, I believe it’s not good for the people who live here now and will in the future, or for our millions of visitors from around the world. And once done, it can’t be undone.

I’ll continue to fight for a Santa Monica that grows responsibly into the 21st century, honoring its rich history, wisely using the resources and structures we already have, developing as it must — as dictated by necessity, not by greed, not by outsiders’ demands, not by the petty personal agendas of the ambitious, not by anything that barters our future for wealth or power.

Money talks, a lot of money shouts you down. We have rich ground here. Some will say the silliest things with the straightest faces, they’ll throw theories and studies and platitudes at you, and the naive and uninformed will nod and say, that makes sense, even when it clearly doesn’t. But we, nearly 100,000 of us, must live with the consequences for the rest of our lives and probably our children’s lives. This is not a game, not even a high stakes game, it is more — it is our home. We need to be asking the simple, obvious questions, and examining closely the answers given.

I remember some years ago when many people seemed horrified that we were losing some big corporate tenants to surrounding communities and they said we must take this big development money being offered, or… the developers will take their money elsewhere! My reaction even then was, So? Let them take their truckloads of money and inappropriate, out of scale developments to wherever. Santa Monica will always be desirable, and we will be offered development that works for all our residents, if that’s what we ask for.

I’m absolutely in favor of early childhood education. It’s been proven to make a significant difference in people’s lives. But — not at our Civic Center. Not on the edge of downtown. Not crowding out other possibilities on that unique, historic piece of land (that a mostly African-American community was displaced for, lest we forget). Not for another extension of the unstoppable Santa Monica College and its many campuses, at a giveaway rental of $1 per year for 55-65 years (some $25M under market value), when they are turning over operation of it to a for-profit firm. Not with an upfront contribution for construction from our city coffers of $5.4M. What can possibly justify all this? I live and pay taxes here, and I don’t think my/our money should go for corporate welfare and inappropriate developments. And yet those who raise the obvious questions are told firmly, it’s a done deal.

Right next to the proposed ECEC stands the site where an athletic field was promised more than 10 years ago, as Samohi athletes across the street have struggled for a dire lack of fields. Hundreds showed up, twice, to speak in favor of it being finally delivered, and what did they get from City Council? Let us study it a little more. But the ECEC complex — full steam ahead.

The 12-story behemoth planned for 4th and Arizona downtown will also be very hard to stop at this point, though it is being scaled down slightly now, for compromise. But we should stop it. Again, ask the simple questions. This is our land, bought with our tax money. Why have we turned it over to a developer to build such a huge complex in the heart of our downtown, offering myriad problems and little in return to the city? Shouldn’t the heart of our downtown be some sort of town square, as nearly every great city around the world has provided for? Not necessarily devoid of any development but with a lot of open space. Instead – this? Why? What is the pressing need for this, there, on our land?

So much talk about a housing crisis, when Santa Monica has already much more than done our part, regionally. We’re hemmed in by our city limits, 8.4 square miles. We’re already one of the densest cities in California – 11,000 per square mile. And that does not count our massive daily influx of tourists, workers and students, which more than doubles those figures. Yet there are voices constantly crying out – “We need to build more housing, more affordable housing!” Well, we’ve done that, for decades, and a lot more won’t help when you have a nearly infinite demand, and it certainly won’t make homes any more affordable, that’s just nonsense. We must address the issue, but rationally. In the meantime, go build your massive apartment buildings in Culver City, thank you, next to your esteemed transit corridors. Forward, march!

I think we do need a master plan that addresses all issues of development and sets the boundaries, but right now we don’t have it, not a workable one. So we must continue to ask questions every time. Who says we must do this or that? What study shows we need more of whatever? Where’s the demand? All I want are some real answers to common sense questions.

QUICK! JUMP IN YOUR CAR NOW! Drive to downtown LA to the Central Library for the 12:15 performance of “The Forrest Gump of LSD: the Visionary Imagery of Roger Steffens and The Family Acid.” No ingestion required to view a selection of the 300,000+ photographs Steffens took for more than half a century, from Viet Nam to Trenchtown to Marrakesh. He co-founded “The Reggae Beat” on KCRW and is a master storyteller and so much more. BBC-TV World News said he has had “one of the most captivating lives in American history.” Wow. It’s true. See ya there?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” — Mark Twain

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com