The court’s decision in the at-large elections case (Pico Neighborhood Association et al. v. City of Santa Monica) is unambiguous. The City is in violation of California law.

So its decision to appeal the case resembles a den of foxes using stolen eggs to pay for their right to invade the coop. It’s brazenly self-serving.

If the Council members want to represent the citizens of this city, they’ll have to do it directly. The suggestion that the Council operates in the best interests of everyone has so many contradictory examples that it implies that the residents are, like viewers of Fox News, gullible enough to believe anything. We’re not.

When the residents north of Montana share the same concerns as those in the Pico corridor; when people in the flight path of SMO have the same issues as new renters in Downtown; or when the people who actually live here believe that development and tourist/visitor-centric expenditures are the best use of City undersight and funding, then at-large representation might make sense. But it’s doubtful.

The Council, therefore, should accept the court’s conclusion, abandon the appeal, and spend some “quality time” understanding the needs of specific communities and demographic groups within Santa Monica. Then, if the current members still have the conviction to run, knowing that they’ll be held accountable by residents to represent the residents’ best interests, they should put their hat(s) in the ring.

It’s my guess, though, that with their hegemony diluted, several of them won’t have the courage to defend and run on their records.


Peter Altschuler

Santa Monica


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