By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Santa Monica Spending $325,000 to Study Whether Residents are Happy. No, Seriously.

It's just another transparent excuse for Big Government in a small city, to tax and spend more.


October 30, 2016

This Santa Monica City parking garage is the most expensive, space per space, ever built anywhere in the world. Looks great at night though, doesn't it?

At $350,000 per year, City Manager Rick Cole is the best paid City manager in the state, maybe the world. City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren earns $189,000 per year. 105 Santa Monica City employees earn more than $200,000 per year. The average Santa Monica policeman or fire fighter makes $94,000 per year, spitting distance of six figures. Cops and firemen get to retire at 55 with a full pension. But are residents happy? Hmmm .... let's spend $325,000 and find out!!

If the City wants to know how it's residents really feel, they can just read their e mail. I get an e mail rather like this from Laura Wilson every morning, for example. She CC's it to every member of the City Council, the City Manager, news editors like moi, and heads of major City of Santa Monica Depts. This one is typical:

"Did your neighbor wake you up today? Mine did! and does EVER MORNING!

5:58am wake up call rude tourist who does not give a shit about the people who live here yelling at her cell phone in the courtyard of the Palihouse.

The best way to destroy a peaceful neighborhood? Just plop a hotel down in the middle of it! Way to go protecting your pension City Staff and to the City Council who allow this illegal 24/7 business to continue destroying the peace, quiet and enjoyment of my home you SUCK!"

The City already knows how we feel. They are not paying RAND to find out more about our wellbeing. No, the City wants RAND to find a reason for them to tax and spend more, which after all, is what the City Staff does best. It's pretty obvious, guys.

I am looking for evidence that City funds went to some of the anti-Measure LV literature stuffing my mailbox. Until I find it, let's give equal time to the opposite side.

This comment from a reader: "great article about the $325,000 happiness study.

the stat about 105 city employees is that they make over $300,000 per year!

The article says 105 over $200,000.

it would be 500 that make over 200,000."

This from Constance Farrell at the Santa Monica Ministry of Information:

The City of Santa Monica is seeking input from 5,000 residents for the second installment of the Wellbeing Survey. Created in partnership with the RAND Corporation, the new Economics Foundation, and with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Wellbeing Project harnesses the power of data to provide a shared understanding of our community's strengths and needs, encouraging collaboration among City leaders, local organizations, and residents to improve our collective wellbeing.

Data collected from the survey will be combined with data from City departments, social media, and non-City entities to inform the Wellbeing Index, a report card for the cumulative impact of all the City does for its residents. Each of the Index's six dimensions (community, place, health, learning, economic opportunity, and outlook) reflect quality of life and resident needs in Santa Monica. Survey results will identify gaps in program goals and will help align policy decisions with the needs and experiences of Santa Monica's 93,000 residents.

Initial findings from the Wellbeing Index, all available at, were released in April 2015, and were informed by survey responses from 2,200 residents. Since, the City has responded, taking action to maximize existing wellbeing assets' impact, and to improve in challenge areas identified by the findings.

Despite the obvious desires of residents, the City Staff and Council have approved an insane amount of construction. Now traffic is at a standstill, and they have approved 7 large projects for Wilshire Blvd. and Lincoln. So they can get money from taxes. To run studies on the wellbeing of residents. Who are busy waiting in traffic.


Reader Comments(3)

HappyPro writes:

(Data collected from the survey will be combined with data from City departments, social media, and non-City entities to inform the Wellbeing Index) ??? ??? I like everything on Facebook and never post angry faces. You'll want to clone me for your survey. Have you figured out how to do that yet? Non city entities? Does that mean you collect credit scores too? I'm doomed! The rent is making me broke! I don't have enough money left for dates. Working two jobs but I have expensive taste and need to impress, ya know.

wej writes:

I'm not happy about that. 😒

resident writes:

The city wants to know how residents feel. That's funny. On another note: Rod Gould is no longer the City Manager.


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