After more than a year of being separated and conducting our meetings over Zoom, the Santa Monica Lions Club held our first meeting at the Elks Lodge on July 14th. It was so wonderful to see our club members, along the Pacific Palisades Lions Club, and meet a potential new Lion. We also had other members of the Santa Monica community who came to hear our speaker, Councilman Phil Brock.

Following cocktails and dinner, SM Lions President Kathy Boole passed the gavel to our new club president, Susan DeRemer, as this was also the first meeting of our new year. Two other Lions will be sharing the president’s duties over the course of this year, Kingsley Fife and Kathy Boole.

After the short ceremony, Councilman Brock gave us an update on the City of Santa Monica, who celebrated its 146th anniversary on July 10th. Santa Monica the past year was the most challenging in our history, due to the pandemic, social unrest and homelessness.

158 business closed, particularly affecting the Third Street Promenade, with Restoration Hardware Baby and Old Navy joining in the closures.

In the eight square miles that make up Santa Monica, our homeless population swelled to 1,100 individuals, while services have been cut.

Seven city department head positions are needed to replace interim department heads. They include the police & fire departments, city attorney’s office, city manager & assistant city manager positions, public works department, and pier management.

While none of the three new council members ever anticipated the challenges they are now experiencing, they are bringing a new perspective, experiences and a passion for the city where they grew up and graduated from Santa Monica High School. For all the issues Brock mentioned, he also brought a message of hope.

Brock shared some of his priorities with us. He would like to see more parks for families in a city where currently 72% of the population lives in apartment buildings. He would like to see Santa Monica “celebrate the arts, bringing more attention to the role it played in influencing so much Southern California art and culture that is recognized around the world. One of the last points he shared was a desire to get displaced persons off the streets through services and counseling, focusing more on root causes and not just on finding them housing. It would not only improve the lives of those living on the streets, but also make the city safer for everyone.
Brock closed saying he believes in transparency and community participation, encouraging anyone with ideas or concerns to contact him at phil.brock@smgov.net.

The SM Lions have other great speakers coming up at our monthly dinner meetings, including Matt Hall, editor of this newspaper. If you are interested in attending and becoming a Lion, join us for dinner at the Elks Lodge on Wednesday, August 11th at 6 p.m. To RSVP or get more information, please contact Yoriko Fisher, at santamonicalion@gmail.com, Kingsley Fife at 310-454-2960.