Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Council Cowardly Postpones Hines Vote

The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday made the predictable move of voting to postpone deciding the fate of the much-opposed Hines mixed-use "Bergamot Transit Village" project at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard, the site of the old Papermate factory. At 767,000 square feet, more than half of which would be devoted to commercial use, the mammoth development has attracted widespread opposition from Santa Monica citizens. High on the list of concerns is the prospect of a substantial increase in traffic in a zone of already significant congestion.

Far be it from the Council to make an unpopular decision in front of 150 attendees. They graciously agreed to hear the many concerns regarding the development Tuesday night, after which they plan to vote on February 4. The fact they felt the need to postpone the vote doesn't bode well for opponents of the project - which is probably most of Santa Monica.

The City Council, however, does not necessarily hearken to the needs or wants of its constituents. Higher on their priority list are the needs of developers who pay down the debt incurred on their campaign loans. Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor accepted such campaign contributions, somehow coincidentally all from executives of Hines Development. The contributions were perfectly legal, all under $250, but that doesn't make them any more tenable. Money from Hines helped her get elected. If she wants us to believe that doesn't bias her, she thinks we're idiots. Yet Mayor O'Connor refuses to recuse herself from a vote on the project of her donors.

Another group that ranks higher with the city council than their constituents is city staff. The pressure to pay some of the highest salaries in the country is driving the Council to approve new development to generate new taxes at the fastest speed possible. But salaries are only the beginning of the problem. Pensions, health insurance and other benefits also burden the city's financial obligations.

It doesn't take a traffic engineer to see the freeway ramps at Cloverfield - those that would service the Bergamot Village project - are already beyond capacity. The ramps are parking lots every morning and evening. To propose even one more car trip at this point is downright malicious. To propose the new Expo train line will help any of this traffic is thoroughly laughable. Not only is the train completely unfeasible for use by Santa Monicans - there will be no parking lot downtown - but it will cut the city in half as soon as it touches down to ground level at approximately 20th Street.

It is emblematic of the high hypocrisy in this town that Santa Monica's staff and elected leaders like to pretend the city is moving toward "sustainability." Proposals such as the Hines project instead reveal the heavy reliance of the city on taxes brought in by outside shoppers and tourists staying at the city's hotels.

This March the city's Office of Sustainability and the Environment is holding a Student Art Contest with the theme of "What does it mean to use water 'Well?'" Presentations are being given to the children about how they can conserve water. With the addition of three quarters of a million square feet of office space, you can bet we'll all be asked to conserve even more water.


Reader Comments(1)

DanielleC1981 writes:

Well said- so very well said- the developers own four of our council and Richard Bloom ushered this mess in- and used their money to go on to make bigger messes- the lack of skill, talent and ability to govern is what is wrong with the council 4- the greed and power have attracted them - not changed them- they lacked quality and integrity going way back- many departments are being badly handled- important ones- we have a ratio of 1-31 staff to residents- it's a joke and a con- all the way