masks: It’s harder for some than for others. Courtesy image.

I THOUGHT WE HAD MORE TIME

But even now when it seems we have nothing but time, suddenly we’re out of it.

The forces of greed are always ready to pounce. In Washington they already have, for hundreds of billions of dollars that should have gone to those who needed it. Here in Santa Monica the plots are thickening (and sickening), and thieves love nothing more than a crisis. A distraction. The bigger the better. Look over there! (Not here, where my hand is in your pocket.)

I always thought that if this pandemic resulted in a horrifying amount of suffering and death, as predicted, it would be cause to reevaluate our entire society. Maybe we can feed the hungry, house the homeless. Maybe sun and air for energy makes a lot more sense than fossil fuels. Maybe insane military spending is killing the quality of life. That perhaps it was a scourge so terrible that we could be motivated to make the necessary changes to avoid the environmental disasters our Earth is rushing to. And maybe Santa Monica could become again the city residents used to love dearly. The Daily Press Editorial Board wrote a superb argument for that, last weekend. “What do we really need? What makes life a joyous experience?”

ONLY 100,000 DEAD, THE NEW HOPE NOW

675,000 dead in the U.S. from the influenza pandemic a century ago. 50 million worldwide. The world had just lost 17M dead in WWI, plus 20M more casualties, so those numbers were enormous but not something they hadn’t just dealt with. But people then knew if they could just get through it, everything could be “normal” again. Not so now.

Climate change is the game changer. For those who believe in science, facts, and what’s in front of your nose, it’s clear we can have no return to business as normal. Will we defeat this plague and then quickly realize we should have made those changes permanent, to survive? We don’t have very long to fix things and we’ve been going in the wrong direction. What we’ve been forced to do in response to this global threat has shown us the way, shown us what is possible. The younger generation gets it. Retirement? They want to be able to see 35.

HOW DOES ALL THIS AFFECT SANTA MONICA?

Well, we’re broke. Beyond broke. Like every city and state, but Santa Monica does things in a big way, right? We always want to be number one! But the economic fallout from the pandemic didn’t cause this, it just exacerbated it; we’ve been headed for financial ruin for years. Voices have been raised against profligate spending but those voices were ignored.

What’s done is done and now we have to deal with it. But that’s where, suddenly, we don’t have any time. Because by the time you read this, big big decisions will have been made about our future. Last night the City Council considered recommendations for the huge budget cuts that will be necessary. (I’m writing this Monday.)

THEY GOT ADVICE

From a hand-picked panel. But what a panel. All the forces of more overdevelopment and more taxes were at the table, and the voices for slow growth, smart growth, a resident-oriented direction, were not invited. Even SMRR was snubbed — can you imagine? Santa Monica Forward, funded by developers, offered their same old agenda to build our way out of this crisis, chucking long-established planning and zoning regulations and other community protections. How could anyone, with a straight face, actually advocate for more density at this time? And how could the City Council solicit that advice, and did they act on it?

Six of the seven neighborhood associations put together an impressive, reasonable, resident-oriented plan for these drastic cuts that must be made. (Who was missing? Mine, Ocean Park, as usual, never raises their voice about vital city issues. How about changing that, folks? Who does it serve?) Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City also had sound, resident-friendly suggestions. The City staff did not officially recognize those before making their recommendations to the council.

TIME TO GET INFORMED

It’s your city, your kids’ future, your life. The sands are trickling down, this is the ninth inning. Things are moving fast. No time to wait for the next election. If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. It’s time to become informed, and speak up now. Because other people are speaking up, and they are not necessarily your friends, and you may not want to live under their dictates.

When I wrote my last column, I didn’t envision all this happening quite this soon. So don’t wait for me. Take care of your own. It may sound like a lot but it’s a joyous experience. Or, you could just wait until things get so bad you have to move, like so many long time residents already have, Me, I’m staying, to fight.

SLIGHT CORRECTION

Last week I cited the cleanliness of our bay as having received “grades of F the last three years, and even a month ago.” I read too quickly. That goes for the area around the Pier, and only during wet weather conditions. Otherwise, whole bay, most of the time, an A.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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2 Comments

  1. Zoning regulations generally benefit wealthier residents who “got theirs” first and don’t want the hoi polloi to benefit from lower rent/home prices.

  2. Interesting that the Ocean Park Assn did not participate in adding their plan to City Council. I Joined the Assn several years ago in hopes that it would discuss issues facing its residents. What I found was a group of people more interested in occasionally cleaning the beach, but with little interest in the conditions facing many of its residents such as transportation, living conditions, lack of interest by the Santa Monica Council on basic issues that the rest of the Santa Monica associations consider. As a long time Ocean Park resident I was always dismayed at the fact that the Santa Monica City Council often ignored issues facing residents south of Pico Blvd. The lack of interest the Ocean Park Assn has shown, as this article pointed out, may be the reason. I left the Assn. after several years because of there lask of interest in real public issues even when they were brought up!

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