IN SANTA MONICA
If I may appropriate that to local issues. No more making deals with the devil. When you hold back and wait until after you have lost something precious, chances are good you won’t get it back.
2017 was certifiably horrible. I will not forget. We lost much that is dear, especially as Americans. 2018 could easily be worse. But not if I have anything to say about it. And I’m optimistic.
This past Saturday I marched, with millions of others. Estimates of the crowd in downtown LA ranged from 300,000 to double that. The focus of last year’s march was outrage over the illegitimate election of a man so many considered unfit to hold that high office, and his shameless antifeminism. This past year we’ve seen the dangerous results for women and girls, but this march also celebrated the dawning of a new era of hope for real equality for women especially in the workplace, especially to be free from sexual violence, harassment and discrimination. Time’s up!
It was also a protest against the staggering number and range of policies and reversals enacted by this pretender to the throne in that year since the last march, that so many feel are un-American and reprehensible. AND — a clarion call especially to women and to people of color, to run for office, and to vote, in unprecedented numbers. It seems already to be gaining great momentum.
That’s where it comes home to Santa Monica. I am not going to run for office, I am not going to change my gender or race. But I am henceforth wearing my Henry Rollins heavy boots. (“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.” — H.R.)
I’ve had it. With getting sucked in, to arguing piecemeal issues on the wrong premise with disingenuous or willfully ignorant people who have carefully hidden agendas. That’s like trying to negotiate with Jello, like trying to catch the wind.
You say you want to help solve our “housing crisis.” (It’s an affordability crisis — completely different solutions.) But with your plans to pack even tighter an already overcrowded, too-dense Santa Monica, you are either sincerely misinformed or intentionally a tool of moneyed interests that will profit from what you espouse. Profit. Immensely.
Say it. Santa Monica is already packed to the gills. (We’ll need them — we’re about to be squeezed into the sea.) Where else do you have an already-dense 94,000 residents in 8.4 square miles, then throw in some 150,000 plus visitors per day? Something that rarely gets noted by overdevelopment apologists.
There’s our gridlocked traffic. Our water shortage. Airport use. Election process. The role of Santa Monica College in our community. Our bloated, overpaid staff. Use of our Civic Center. Our many overdevelopment issues. Our schools. Frivolous, extravagant spending of our tax dollars. Tourism. Crime. Disappearing diversity. The homeless. Zoning. Policing. Unpunished wrongdoing by City Council members and staff. Biased media. The list seems endless, the chances of change remote, because big, big money influences everything, especially elections, and is so hard to overcome. Measure LV, grassroots, imperfect but adjustable, and needed, saw $1.5M come flooding in to squash it, and all the resultant dirty tricks that kind of money can buy.
BUT WE SHALL OVERCOME
I, for one, will not be dissuaded, will not shrink from the daunting task. What else can we do, really, but get angry and get moving. Organize, inform, get out the vote.
Seize the power of truth. Start calling stuff what it really is. No more patience for obfuscation and bullpucky. Start calling campaign contributions bribes. Start calling the string of people who don’t live in Santa Monica but preach before the City Council and get listened to, stooges for developers. Call out Unite Here Local 11 union for being only concerned with lobbying for the biggest buildings possible that offer union wages, no matter what the consequences to the city (that few of them live in).
If someone champions diversity and keeping Santa Monicans in their homes by building more more, more housing so that some small portion of it can be designated “affordable,” ask them what all the other consequences are of that strategy, for those people and all the others who already live here. Ask them how many units we have to build here before the price begins to drop. Really, get a number, I’d love to know, because no one has answered that question yet. They can’t, because the demand here is almost unlimited. It’s LA, it’s the beach.
When someone says we must do our part for this “housing crisis,” tell them fiercely we already have. We have for years exceeded the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) guidelines. Compared to LA County figures, Santa Monica has been building way more units per thousand residents. Why all the hue and cry in Santa Monica, you have to ask yourself? What about Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale? Lennox, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Gardena? Why isn’t there a Forward Beverly Hills? — they don’t build squat for their share of the crisis. Why is Forward only making noise in Santa Monica? Ask yourself. Ask them. And the candidates they’re grooming for City Council this next election. Ask them if they have noticed we have borders that limit us, and one of them is an ocean.
Ask the developers of tall, wide, dense new condo and apartment buildings why they keep talking about how “green” their buildings are, how much more efficient for water and waste, but not about the simple math that 50 units in the space where there once were five is 45 more drains on our limited water and waste facilities, traffic, schools and everything. Any kindergarten kid can do that math, but our City Council and planning department keep buying it. (Right. They know.)
Tonight — last night as you read this — our City Council decides if it’s OK to inject a business that few or none of the neighbors want into a quiet residential neighborhood. By even considering this, who is the CC representing?
Time to look at everything here in a new, brutally honest light. Before it’s too late.
QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK: Can district voting save us? Take the big money out of politics enough to elect people who really want to represent their neighbors? I say it’s certainly worth a try.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” — Will Rogers (of Pacific Palisades)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org