Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Thanks to 'Change Slate' City Councilmembers, Downtown Santa Monica Inc Board Now Composed of Majority Stakeholders

No more using the Third Street Promenade as a Social Engineering Experiment

June 30, 2022 - On Tuesday night, the City Council narrowly voted to appoint three business property owners to the Downtown Santa Monica, Inc board instead of the previous council-connected outsiders.

DTSM is a "private" non-profit organization that is supposed to work with the City government to manage services and operations in downtown Santa Monica. The 13-member board of DTSM is made up of 6 members appointed by the City Council, 6 members elected by the dues-paying property owners in the downtown district, and 1 member who is either the salaried City Manager or his/her designee. Over the past few years, and in the past few months in particular, the DTSM has come under fire by property owners, business owners, and SM City Councilmember Phil Brock for dereliction in its duties of providing a clean and safe downtown environment. In particular, the Ambassador program was decried as ineffective.

The new members appointed to the DTSM Board of Directors are Leonid Pustilnikov, Luke M. Cain, and Lucian Tudor. Pustilnikov and Cain are members of the Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association, a group of business owners which has agitated for eliminating the unarmed Ambassadors provided by the Block by Block company and replacing them with armed police or sheriff's officers. Tudor also called to review the safety ambassador program.

On the City Council, Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmembers Kristin McCown and Gleam Davis tried unsuccessfully to delay a vote on the issue. Ultimately, Councilmembers Phil Brock, Oscar de la Torre, Christine Parra, and Lana Negrete voted to have the vote that night and appointed the three new business advocates to the DTSM Board.

The three members being replaced are Juan Matutue, a UCLA administrator (who has already served two four-year terms), Johannes Van Tilburg, an architect (who has been accused of conflict of interest since he voted to demolish Parking Structure 3 and expects to be awarded the contract to design the housing to replace it), and Rob Rader, a member of the College Board (who has already served three terms).

Downtown property owner John Alle, a vocal critic of DTSM's board, and in particular it's CEO, Barry Snell, said he was "thrilled with the three new Board Members." They are on the Promenade every day, Alle said, and "have their own capital invested."

Alle warned that the incoming DTSM board has challenges ahead, caused by former city-appointed board members, "who seldom visited the Promenade, instituted programs and events that were detrimental to the hard-working business and property owners, and mis-manaaged the Promenade, using it as their own social engineering experience."


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