An old friend called me this week and wanted to meet for lunch. I suggested my favorite vegetarian Indian on Main Street – Samosa House, but she wanted to try Bulletproof, so off we went. The coffee house is located what used to be the Starbucks. They have a small menu of organic this, and grass fed that, all of which complements the butter and coffee combinations they are most well known for.

We ordered up some grub, and I tried the steak tacos with coconut tortillas. I found the tacos to be tasty, the beef was tender and lightly seasoned. There was a nice ratio of guacamole to beef such that the tacos were full but not overflowing and coming apart. The dish was accompanied with some steamed vegetables in a butter sauce of course.

The price though was too much in my estimation, $11.50 for two small tacos and a few vegetables is a bit steep even for me in Santa Monica. Perhaps it’s because they have to be paying rent on the space next door which is supposed to be for the upcoming Bulletproof Labs.

That project has been under development for many months and I can only assume that the same troubles they had with the planning department when they opened the café are besetting them now with the labs.

This is a constant in the city. Companies that wish to open and grow and provide jobs, find it stifling to work with our enforcement agencies but that is what slows us down. For a city that is as technologically savvy as we are, it seems that our calcified bureaucracy makes it brutal to do business here, and I’m not against slowing things down a bit, but at what cost?

It seems like every time I investigate a new company there is a horror story of what it takes to get a company up and running here. But yet, we seem to always have time, money and the willpower to increase our staffing. I know I sound like a broken record, but what will it take for us to get a more responsive city government, not just a more bureaucratic one.

I’d like to see us put a moratorium on new staff hiring, and on new commercial and residential development. We need to return to our roots, as best we can, to being a small town that is focused on our residents. I know that the big dollars that have flowed in from tech companies, developers and the land rush barbarians are intoxicating. But if the entire city becomes one giant mixed use retail/commercial/residential building separated by nothing more than addresses, well we might consider changing our name to West New York.

Our future should be considered with greater thought than just how quickly can we get another new hotel built, or another new mixed use commercial building. We should be planning for the next 100 years, not the next 100 days. Business needs to be encouraged to be here, but it also needs to be done in such a way that it doesn’t destroy what is here already.

Saturday evening I was walking on the Pier after the Paddle Board and Ocean day, I stopped to look at the display of the pier when it was destroyed in 83. We rebuilt, and we rebuilt with an eye to the past. I think we need to do the same thing today.

It’s okay to allow for new businesses to open in existing buildings. It’s okay to remodel, rehab and recreate. I just want to see it done with a wider vision than what’s going to cover the current year’s pension costs, and how do we maximize the development fees we can charge this year.

I don’t know when, or if, Bulletproof Labs will open. That space for years was Sparky’s Yogurt. He’s gone, and the space needs to be active and used – I’m in favor of that. People need to be working there and contributing back to the local economy. I would oppose any proposal to tear that building down and put up an 8-story building (assuming it was legal and possible) because there is a character to the city that buildings bring.

We need city leadership that it taking into consideration not just the short term, but the long term development. And part of that is cutting back on how big the bureaucracy grows.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra