Well, well, well.
It seems quite a few people are just a teensy bit upset over renderings of the very large development creature gestating at Lincoln and Ocean Park. Let’s just call it the LOP Monster here, for convenience, shall we?
These upset people are for the most part calm, reasonable, let’s-get-along, patient, non-confrontational even non-political folks, not malcontents, troublemakers, naysayers, NIMBYs or nattering nabobs of negativism. So we must give them a nice pat on the head for those qualities. They have had the good sense to let our fine City government map our destinies in a certain way for a couple of decades now with such vision, fiscal responsibility, compassion and respect for residents and our unique history here, so no one wants to upset that apple cart. (…maybe a few dirty hot dog carts on the Pier, though, but be careful, they are packing.)
The neighborhood folks especially, Ocean Park, Sunset Park and Pico Neighborhoods, have watched patiently and mostly silently as our City Fathers, and … Mothers, have given piece by piece approval to the Great Wall of Lincoln, of which this will be another (huge) brick in the wall, a piece needed to hop down the street to the block-long gaping open pit that will become – more apartments.
As some of those gentle souls look around their neighborhood, at all the new units going in where Norm’s used to be, Denny’s, the gas station on the west side of south Lincoln (a really, really ugly building, looking like a prison), and now these four mammoth building of five, or maybe six stories each, built right up to the sidewalks, 521 more units (most at market rate, which raises the prices for all existing units in town), and more, oh yes, many many more in the pipeline, some wonder, where are all these people who need these coming from? Santa Monica’s population has increased very little in the last half-century – 1970: 88,300; 2020: 93,706.
It must be because there is a severe housing shortage here. That is why the quasi-official CA state government entity SCAG ordered SM to build more than 9,000 new units by the end of the decade. And 70% of them must be “affordable housing.” Well, that will be a good trick.
They originally had us pegged for half that number but then doubled it, for some reason. Some think the reason has entirely to do with zoning. We are in our worst situation ever in this regard because a series of new laws passed in Sacramento have usurped local control over zoning and development. Does that remind you of certain politicians who are usurping local rights on voting, and even on a woman’s most personal right to choose her family life?
Some small SoCal cities immediately banded together to fight the takeover, but we are late to the game. I will never forget, some years ago when it was first announced, that the immediate reaction of then-Councilperson Terry O’Day was not, what can we do? But, “well, I guess we’ll just have to change our zoning.” I could not tell if he had a delighted grin on his face at the time. And by the way, at that time we had an estimated 4,500 vacant units here. And still do. So why…? Oh, never mind.
Unlike the current City Council, whose makeup has shifted from past decades of all SMRR-Forward-approved cheerleaders for overdevelopment (thanks to the miracle of the last election), our current School Board has been grifting us for almost as long, but it’s not so noticeable to most, especially if you don’t have kids in school. Very, very few residents have enough knowledge of what’s going on. So very few will get even a teensy bit upset.
While the School Board doesn’t really change the skyline or densify the city, create more traffic congestion or raise crime statistics. But they have managed to demolish – unnecessarily – the very historic History Building and other WPA-created (1930s) structures at Samohi, despite public outcry and expert opinions to the contrary, spending hundreds of millions of our tax/bond dollars (they are going to be asking us for a lot more!) to modernize our high school but way, way beyond what was necessary. By the time they finish their master plan, most of which has not been subject to public scrutiny or input, hiding important facts and often being insultingly dismissive of anyone who disagrees or even asks for information, none of 130 years of former Samohi students turning to “their” campus will be able to recognize it.
The cost of progress and modernization? No. Common sense, fiscal responsibility and community input were put on the chopping block in favor of a master plan that gives Samohi state-of-the-art shiny new objects (good for property values and for making millions from rentals) at the sacrifice of the essence and soul of education. What is a school district teaching when they ignore the community and many architectural experts to tear down… the History Building? Irony is indeed dead.
For both our city and our school district, what’s gone is gone. If you are sad, upset or even angry, turn that into determination to fix things for our future. This is a small city. We still have elections, where the votes are counted, fairly. (Even if the campaigning is not done fairly.) Information is vital, and I will do my best to provide it. The past is prologue. There are people and forces who want your future, Santa Monica, because it can make them very wealthy and powerful. I say it’s a numbers game, and we have the numbers.
I may have been born in Florida, stopped off in Detroit and spent 30 years in New Mexico but this is my town now, 35 years in. I’m a fighter, and Santa Monica is worth fighting for.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org