Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Fireman: How Dare they use Public Safety to Manipulate Your Vote on Measure LV!

Adrian Crook, retired 38-year veteran of SMFD and lifelong Santa Monica resident, speaks out

10/24: A short while ago, I learned that the Santa Monica Firefighters Local 1109 had given its support to the "No on LV" effort.

As a 38-year veteran of the Santa Monica Fire Department and lifelong resident of Santa Monica, I was shocked and confused as to why they would do that.

Knowing how overwhelmed and understaffed our Fire Department currently is, with extremely high call volume, and how difficult it is to respond to life-threatening emergencies due to extreme and sometimes gridlocked traffic congestion, it makes no sense to encourage more development at this time.

For several years now, at certain times of the day, virtually every major street in the city becomes extremely congested, if not gridlocked. When responding to emergency calls, engineers (who drive the fire engines) are forced to utilize neighborhood streets, and sometimes even alleys, to get around the gridlocked traffic.

When a fire engine, ladder truck, or any other emergency vehicle is responding to an emergency, we take that emergency seriously, and we get there in the safest and fastest way possible.

Those of you who live in the Sunset Park area know this gridlock first hand because our once quiet neighborhood streets are now inundated with impatient motorists trying to get around the most congested areas. This is happening citywide.

It has become so bad that Engine Company #5 (located on 25th and Ashland), when responding to a call east of 25th Street, will often go out of its way, cutting through Santa Monica Airport at 25th Street and exiting at Centinela Avenue, instead of idling in the gridlocked traffic on Ocean Park Boulevard.

These delays in their response can literally put your lives at risk.

In a confusing political world, full of disingenuous and misleading information, there is one thing that I know for sure: The first priority of the men and women of Santa Monica Firefighters Local 1109 is to serve and protect this community. Nothing is more important to them than that.

So when I saw their endorsement of "No on LV," I was baffled and started to make inquiries.

I learned that the Local 1109 Board was approached by City Council members and a former Santa Monica Police Department lieutenant who is currently employed by NMS Properties, a development company which has donated approximately $285,000 to "HOME – No on LV" and stands to gain a lot if Measure LV loses.

All of them evidently led the Board members of Local 1109 to believe that if Measure LV passed, in the event of a major fire or earthquake, damaged buildings would languish in a state of decay for an extended period of time, creating an unsafe situation for all involved.

You can see, from a firefighter's point of view, that this would be unacceptable.

The truth of the matter is that under Measure LV, damaged buildings would be allowed to be rebuilt to their previous heights without requiring voter approval.

One of the things that is immediately noticeable when you get involved in the LV debate is the misinformation and the manipulation of facts, and how they're used to sway your opinion and garner your vote.

I've seen statements such as Santa Monica doesn't have enough housing, or Santa Monica doesn't have enough affordable housing, and neither of those statements, in my view, is true.

In this 8-square mile footprint we call Santa Monica, our residential areas are built out, and adding more housing anywhere in the city, without enhancing our infrastructure to support that growth, would be foolish and irresponsible. Doing so would place increased profits, or the furthering of a personal or political agenda, above your safety and quality of life.

Probably the main reason that the Local 1109 Board members lent their support to "No on LV" was because they were told it would delay the construction of the new downtown Fire Department headquarters facility.

That would be totally unacceptable and would prolong a situation that has put our firefighters and our community at risk for years, if not decades.

This again is a fallacy because the new fire station project has, in fact, already been approved and is therefore not subject to Measure LV.

The only thing that I can see delaying the project is that the site of the proposed new building, on 7th Street between Arizona and Santa Monica Boulevard, is apparently still owned by NMS Properties, the same company that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Measure LV. I've been told that they're involved with the city in some sort of land swap deal that I don't understand.

It makes you wonder what the other organizations opposing Measure LV were told.

The bottom line is that those of us who live in the community, and those involved in the "Yes on LV" campaign, appreciate and would always support the needs of the Santa Monica Fire Department.

I am personally offended that city officials would use your safety as a ploy to manipulate your vote.

City officials have known for many years that the current Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) headquarters, Fire Station #1, as well as Fire Station #3 on 19th and Arizona, are unsafe and do not meet current building and earthquake standards.

Fire Station #1 houses the bulk of SMFD resources, including our only aerial ladder truck (of which we should have two), our light/air rescue vehicle, the on-duty Battalion Chief, and two paramedic fire engines.

In the event of an earthquake, all the personnel assigned to that aging facility and their equipment would be at risk.

Just three weeks ago, a swarm of seismic activity at the Salton Sea prompted scientists to say that there was an elevated risk for a big San Andreas fault earthquake.

One thing we learned since the 1994 Northridge earthquake is that numerous earthquake fault lines run through Santa Monica.

In times of natural disasters, we have been in the past, and will again in the future, be completely alone, having to rely on our resource capability in terms of both personnel and equipment.

If the City Council members opposing Measure LV were truly concerned about the Fire Department and the safety of our community, they would have prioritized rebuilding Fire Station #1 sometime between 1994 and now, using Earthquake Redevelopment Agency funds, instead of apparently spending $42 million of those funds on Tongva Park, for example.

How dare they now use the issue of public safety to manipulate your vote on Measure LV!

I think you can see that it's the development companies, politicians, and other special interests who are putting our community at risk, not the supporters of Measure LV.

If you are concerned about this community, about the quality of life of those who live here, and about our safety, please do not believe the disingenuous rhetoric of the opponents of Measure LV.

Let's stop the overdevelopment, improve our infrastructure, and build a foundation that will support healthy growth in the future -- the kind of growth that will enhance our quality of life.

I urge you to join me in voting "Yes on LV."


Reader Comments(1)

Henry writes:

Simply put corruption and devious for our City council to go against the public good by paid agents of developers lying to voters. I would like to see criminal charges brought against them. Also, firemen using the airport as the only non congrested area in our city says a lot. We must stop our city council from developing the airport. Sunset Park will become Sunset Pit of congestion.