A slide showing elements of the city's focus on safety.
Clean and Safe

Santa Monica residents should expect the city to focus on homelessness and safety in the coming year but other projects big and small may be put on the back burner due to potential budget constraints according to this year’s State of the City.

City Manager David White and Mayor Gleam Davis gave recorded speeches this week and while both touched on positive notes regarding economic recovery, they also alluded to pending budget issues that will limit the scope of city services in the near future.

White singled out three fiscal liabilities on the horizon, aging infrastructure that requires seismic upgrades, the pending California Voting Rights Act lawsuit and ongoing settlements related to the Eric Uller sexual abuse claims.

“We are developing plans to address these one-time budget impacts,” he said. “The plan centers on preserving community services and programs and the jobs that fuel those services. As resolution of our liabilities becomes more clear, we will communicate the impacts, as our recovery will be hampered.”

White said he would continue to work on the city’s large priorities such as safety, cleanliness and homelessness but there will be further impacts to services due to staff shortfalls.

This is a time when we need the community’s understanding and support as we rebuild our operations as finances and staffing allow,” he said. “And hiring in today’s market is a challenge experienced across industries, and we are not at all immune. Our staff vacancy rate is also high, and we know you are feeling that.”

Davis said the theme of her term would be a “focus” on what matters most.

“To stay focused, we frankly are going to need to give some things up,” she said. “There will be tradeoffs in the name of getting things done. We cannot be distracted chasing minor problems that do not meaningfully advance our bigger, more urgent goals. City government and the City budget shrank during COVID and we do not have the resources to be all things to all people or even do all that we used to do. We can accomplish great things but only if we spend our limited time and resources in a disciplined and targeted way. If we let ourselves get distracted, we set ourselves up for failure.”

She said the largest issue is homelessness and that finding housing for the unhoused is the primary solution.

“Almost all of our unhoused neighbors have been traumatized by life on the streets because they lack the most fundamental thing that most of us take for granted—a roof over our heads,” she said. “Because each unhoused person is an individual, there is no “one size fits all” solution. But we do know one thing–getting someone housed is the surest way to address whatever other issues they must deal with. We will never solve the mental health, addiction, and other medical issues we see every day, if we condemn homeless persons to a nomadic lifestyle on our streets or if we simply dump them in a criminal justice system that is not equipped and not intended to do deal with this complex issue.”

When addressing crime, White said targeted patrol areas were having an impact on reducing crime as were efforts to hire more officers.

In 2020 and 2021, instances of crime were down compared to pre-pandemic levels. Our focused efforts in specific areas have shown measurable results,” he said. “Santa Monica’s crime picture overall is tracking closely with countywide data with a 13% increase in Part 1 crimes in 2022 compared to 2021. The biggest contributing factors are property crimes, including larceny and auto theft. Incidents of aggravated assault and robbery have also increased.”

Davis said the final focus area must be rebuilding the economy.

We are making gains,” she said. We helped Santa Monicans secure over $40 million in rental assistance from the State of California and an additional $750,000 for rent-burdened tenants in rent-controlled units. New investments are coming to Santa Monica with the Frank Gehry designed Ocean Avenue Project, the Historic Miramar Hotel, Providence Saint John’s Master Plan and many other projects. Large international events like the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the 2028 Olympics are tremendous opportunities to reinvigorate our local economy. As the host city for Beach Volleyball in the Olympics, we will welcome the world to our beautiful shore, our world-famous Pier, and everything else our vibrant community offers.”

To read the text of both speeches, visit:



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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...