Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

How To Save Santa Monica


Nasty, even.

I’m not. Au contraire. I’m a sweetheart. Ask my wife and daughter. They’re practically saints and have both been around me for quite a while and neither one takes any crap, from anyone. Blood relatives included. Blood relatives especially. Ask my sainted parents. They didn’t raise a mean boy. Ask my Army Sgt. Major who never gave me any leave time or any slack at all, because I was “not a good soldier,” no killer instinct. Ask Pope Francis.

I am “sharp-tongued” sometimes. I’m quick and feisty to speak out against that which I believe is unfair, unjust, unConstitutional, unAmerican, discriminatory, oppressive or otherwise just not right, because I have always thought that was the sacred obligation of men and women of conscience, to stand with and for each other, especially on the side of those lacking power or a voice. Silence, sidelines, is not an option.

I try to choose my battles and my weapons but I do speak out pretty forcefully sometimes. You have to because lots of fact-bereft people these days believe anything they hear or read. If they hear it in two different places, say, Sean Hannity AND Alex Jones, well then, it must be so. I get carried away a bit sometimes, and forget to remember to be loving, to my sister/brother human beings, fallible as we all are. There are always many ways to say something if you just take a moment to consider your options.


It’s all in the service of the good, the greater good, the historic good, the good that is being beaten senseless these days. “I never spoke up when they came for… any of these people, and ‘then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.’” That’s the practical side, that’s the argument that should move those who are silent to raise their voices, if only for self-preservation.

I‘ve always spoken out, since high school, since everything changed in this country after the assassination of JFK, and MLK Jr., and two months later, RFK. It never mattered if it seemed to be making a difference, or if a person’s expression told me they would not be offering me a dinner invitation. One voice encourages another, and someone has to be the first one to step up before that one becomes a crowd, an army, a movement.

It ain’t easy. Every one of us wants to be liked and even loved. Everyone. When you speak out, you are going to lose “likes.” You will even make enemies. People will then know where you stand, and those who stand squarely elsewhere may not be open to hearing your side of things and they may even resent or reject you for them. It’s always good to remember that you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar. You can rant to get it off your chest and that does feel good, but so many forget in the heat of things that you must choose your words carefully if you are really trying to win converts.


So when I urge people, especially the good folks who live in and love Santa Monica, to get angry about the dire issues facing us, it’s not a reckless, impulsive or ill-considered call. It’s because time is running out, much faster than we imagine. I think about this stuff a lot. What can we do, to keep our historic, unique seaside city from being sold out from under us and ruined forever? Because all the problems we have now, and the tsunami of new ones just around the corner, are being caused or exacerbated by overdevelopment and greed, by trying to jam more and more residents and businesses into an already incredibly dense town whose population triples with visitors every day, and it’s been the people who have coveted and won seats on our City Council for the past 20 years or so who are responsible. (That leaves out a couple of earlier villains, and unfairly damns at least one good guy exception.)

We’re way past Band-Aids now. Community meetings about the homeless, crime, traffic and so on are good but no solution when the cause lies elsewhere. We need lifesaving electoral amputation, now. “Oh dear” won’t do it. We need “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”


Lately, my grown daughter, born, raised, schooled and still living in Santa Monica while working in downtown LA, has asked me a couple of times, what can I do? It’s been hard for me to give an answer I feel is adequate. She, like most of us, has limited time and resources. While the folks working overtime to overdevelop our town and their own bank accounts are getting paid, every day, to figure out ways to suck us dry. They’re always several steps ahead of us.

“Get angry” is not a blueprint. But I have become convinced that no action that will make a difference will happen without that foundation. We need a City Council that represents us, the people who live here — what a concept, eh? — rather than the outside interests that line their pockets and pave their post-Council careers. (We need term limits, for sure.) The odds are daunting. The money flow and financial interests opposing us are tremendous. Our beachside real estate is worth billions. But we have numbers, we have votes, and we must use that ultimate weapon.

I’m not giving up. Not by a long shot. I’m as mad as hell…

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: You think I‘d let Memorial Day pass without a mention? No siree, anti-war and -military though I am I certainly know there are bad guys in the world, who would love to take our toys (we have way too many toys but that’s another discussion) and would not do so nicely, and the brave who have stepped up and suffered and died to keep us free deserve our tremendous respect and honor. (Are you listening, Congress?) I’ll refer you to David Pisara’s fine column yesterday for some info and well-stated sentiments.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves the condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs.” — Pope Francis

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