DTSM: The organization is responsible for the Promenade and nearby streets. Courtesy photo

Over the past 30 years, Downtown Santa Monica and the Third Street Promenade have served as a beloved iconic public space for our residents and visitors from all over the globe to enjoy. It has thrived in times of economic prosperity, weathered economic uncertainty, and now is entering a phase of economic revitalization and renewal. Our downtown has been through a great deal over the past several years and the combination of the national economic downturn, retail and office market shifts, the pandemic, the homeless and mental health epidemic, and restructuring of City services have all made sizable and tangible impacts on our 30-block downtown. Throughout all of this, our vision for downtown has remained the same: a vibrant downtown for the community and beyond.

In this time of recovery, the board at Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM), a 13-member body charged with stewardship for the downtown core, is focused on laying a strong, united foundation for the future, starting with the basics. 

Recently, our Board of Directors adopted the following six focus priorities for 2023. We created the DTSM Services Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate the DTSM, Inc. Services Agreement with the City and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. Our services agreement details the unique commitments and obligations for our district, staff and the City. The ad-hoc committee will set the Board up for success in negotiating a revised services agreement with the City. In addition, we are building support and confidence from our Downtown stakeholders through communications, outreach, and coalition-building.

When we are talking about the importance of a strong foundation, we mean a literal strong foundation. Our priority for next year is to address infrastructure needs such as painting street fixtures such as light poles and railing, repairing electrical issues, and upgrading landscaping. We also plan to relaunch the Promenade Vending Cart Program and curate a downtown entertainment program, the basic programs that put Downtown Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade on the map. In addition, we are prioritizing improving the downtown parking structure experience. We will conduct a full evaluation of the parking structure management, maintenance strategies, and revenue streams to determine what short- and long-term improvements are feasible. This will help us in our advocacy to the City for capital improvements, maintenance, custodial, and revenue management.

Safety has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority for DTSM. For next year, we will expand our efforts to establish ourselves as a leader in informing the City and County on resource deployment and policy recommendations on public safety Downtown. Our next steps will be to develop metrics and compile data while maintaining our safety services like ambassadors and a centralized service center, while also considering private security. Safety in our downtown lays the foundation for us to reactivate public spaces through events, activations, and improving the process in which businesses can open and thrive. The possibilities for Downtown’s public spaces are endless. Through increasing the number of engaging community events, family-friendly programming, and alley upgrades, we can reimagine the economic, physical, and social future of Downtown. 

It’s clear we have a great deal of work ahead. Some results will be immediate, while others will take time and require the effort and collaboration of many stakeholders. Yet, the most important aspect of these priorities is that they are achievable. We cannot accomplish these milestones alone. The success of Downtown Santa Monica is not singular to celebrate individually but rather, our sight is set on a collective effort for our Santa Monica community to accomplish and celebrate together. Our hope is that you, the Santa Monica community, embraces our board’s efforts, remains engaged, and joins us as we roll up our sleeves and tackle the work ahead. 

Eric Sedman, Chair of the Board, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and Andrew Thomas, CEO, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.