Main Street Residents Claim Their True Opinions Regarding Weekend Street Closures are Not Being Represented
Residents claim the Ocean Park Association conducted a shoddy poll and represents the merchants over residents
June 7, 2021
The following are two letters to the editor regarding the city's proposal to close Main Street, a major north-south artery, on the weekends:
WILL A MISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN LEAD TO A MAIN STREET CLOSURE ON WEEKENDS?
Main Street Merchants have been lobbying City Council for over a year to Close Main Street to all traffic on weekends. They wrote a letter to city council last December 21st, claiming: "This pilot program has widespread approval from businesses and Ocean Park residents."
Since when do Lobbyists for Main Street Businesses speak on behalf of Ocean Park Residents? Their next strategy was to partner with Ocean Park Association to create polls to support their claim. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.
OPA polled it's 400 members -100 responded to the poll, 49 were in favor of a main street closure on weekends, 20 were against the closure, for a net total of 29 people in favor – (in a community of approximately 10,000 -13,000 residents). I am a member of OPA and sat in on the Zoom meeting wherein this information was disclosed. Nevertheless, OPA wrote a letter to city council stating "vast majorities" of residents are in favor of closing Main Street.
OPA used to be a neighborhood association, advocating for residents. Take a quick look at the MSBIA website homepage, it clearly demonstrates how they have been taken over by the Merchant's Association. https://www.mainstreetsm.com
There are no super majorities in favor of Closing Main Street. Most retailers are against it, their businesses rely on drive by traffic and street parking to succeed – I can speak to this issue, I have an office on Main Street.
The worst of the pandemic is over, indoor dining will be back to 100% capacity by June 15th, bars and restaurants already have expanded outdoor seating capacity with the Al Fresco Dining program.
Residents have been fighting to REDUCE traffic for years, We don't want more cars, buses, emergency vehicles diverted through the neighborhood, we don't want less parking, less safe living conditions & Main Street to devolve into a weekend bar crawl that families have to avoid.
The proposed pilot program being considered at the June 8th City Council meeting puts the PROFITS of a few businesses over the many PEOPLE who live in Ocean Park, and it's all premised on a deliberate misinformation campaign - that residents are in favor of it, we are not.
Local press and TV are parroting the Santa Monica Main Street Merchants' and Ocean Park Association's (OPA) canard that a "super" or "vast" majority of Ocean Park Residents support a proposed weekend closure of Main Street to all vehicles (cars, delivery trucks, buses, emergency vehicles) and parking.
The truth is, the "vast" majority of Ocean Park residents have not been informed about the proposed closure and do not know anything about it. Of those who do know, residents who live in the most impacted neighborhoods from the beach to 4th Street, Ocean Park Boulevard to the City Border are opposed. They fear the chaos of more traffic, parking, rowdy bar and restaurant patrons, and diverted delivery truck, bus, and emergency vehicles into their neighborhoods will mean less safety for their kids, families, and homes.
Main Street bars and restaurants are pushing this scheme. Other retailers fear the loss of visibility from drive by traffic and street parking will, in fact, hurt them.
Responsible journalism means full investigation. Why haven't our local newspapers and local TV stations reported fairly on the Main Street closure issue? Main Street is a major Santa Monica north/south commercial and traffic artery. It runs through residential neighborhoods with no east/west commercial feeder streets. Taking a major public city street for the commercial benefit of a few bars and restaurants is an irresponsible urban proposal. Failure to investigate and fully report this proposal to the public is irresponsible journalism.