We don’t seem to talk about it as much anymore. Given up, we have. But I’ve been thinking about it lately.
Went out for a walk early last week, around 5 p.m., and when I hit Ocean Park at 6th I glanced east and saw the line of cars disappearing bumper to bumper over the hill towards Lincoln, a normal occurrence almost any time of day, increasingly the last couple of years. But I was a little surprised to glance west and see the line extending under the 4th Street overpass (the whales and carousel murals) toward Main Street. I think I just hadn’t noticed lately because since then I have seen that sight every day or evening, weekday or weekend. Except a couple of times it looked like the backup reached all the way to Main Street.
I used to jest that our traffic travails would soon end because no one would be able to get their car out of the driveway. I’m not so sure anymore that’s a joke.
57 MINUTES DOWN TO 24
Or vice versa. That’s a typical change from Google Maps on your travel time when you check at different times. I’m realizing I can’t check a route in advance any more and have a realistic idea of how long it will take.
A couple weeks ago my daughter called from her car and wondered if she should even try to make it to her appointment for a yearly physical on the westside because the traffic coming from her downtown LA workplace was at a near standstill, in the middle of the day. She thought she had allowed plenty of time, but no.
What I’m illustrating is that horrible traffic, getting exponentially worse all over El Lay, is not exclusive to SM. But as with so many other problems we have here, our City Council and staff say one thing and go through the motions, but their efforts at mitigating are laughable because their hearts aren’t in it. Because they caused them in the first place (here in SM), or at least exacerbated them, or at best failed to do anything effective.
They are making efforts to fight gridlock but they keep approving more and more overdevelopment. They say building more housing will allow workers to live here instead of commuting, when they know damn well pretty much only highly-paid white collar workers can now afford to live here. And yet they also keep approving more office space and retail.
They profess compassion for the homeless but lack compassion for the residents who have suffered terribly, emotionally and physically, sometimes just avoiding injury and even death. They have all these programs that sound good but no plan for relief to the residents. It’s like bailing water from the front of the boat while letting a huge hose gush into the back.
We all know about the confrontations and physical assaults, defecation on doorsteps, tent cities, calm afternoons shattered by some unfortunate screaming at his invisible demons. What are we doing to a generation of our children traumatized by all these scary things? For decades you have made SM a haven for the homeless with illegal meals in the parks and very little enforcement of our laws. Housing is great but where is a realistic and effective plan for treating the mental illness that we now know afflicts more than half of the homeless, resulting in a resident population that feels trapped in their own city, afraid to emerge from their own homes?
TAKE THE SCOOTERS
Please (said Henny Youngman). Never forget, our City Council and staff allowed those for-profit companies to dump thousands of them all over our streets. They later gave away our public sidewalks and streets to park them, did not enforce the laws and fined them so lightly they barely noticed, while so many residents were injured, one killed and several others came within inches of losing their lives. They allowed Santa Monica to become the launching ground, through Bird, but as it spread across the nation most other cities acted on behalf of their residents, not on behalf of the scooter companies.
Never forget, when you next go into the voting booth.
AND NOW, 4TH-5TH & ARIZONA
Your selected leaders are moving forward with a 12-story hotel in the middle of our gridlocked downtown, when what we need there, on our land bought with our tax money, is the kind of central plaza that almost every city in the world has. We need trees and open space, not a monstrous mountain of concrete. What are they thinking of? Not us, that’s for sure.
Keep in mind, dear citizens, that even in the numbed Age of Trump, all these things are insane. There is no justification.
BUT NOW, SOME GOOD NEWS
The Church In Ocean Park had their meeting Sunday, it was packed, and the vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church was resoundingly unanimous. That’s just a first step that keeps options open until the direction of the organization is determined. And Rev. Janet got a resounding vote of approval from all, including the district supervisor. As well she should.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org