Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Santa Monica City Council Targets Montana Avenue for Effective Transformation and Destruction.

outraged by the proposal to change the zoning on Montana Avenue and other quiet, beautiful, pedestrian-friendly avenues in our iconic, seaside city, to allow five and six-story buildings

Dear Mayor Davis & Santa Monica City Council,

I join thousands of my neighbors and fellow Santa Monica citizens and residents to say that I am absolutely outraged by the proposal to change the zoning on Montana Avenue and other quiet, beautiful, pedestrian-friendly avenues in our iconic, seaside city, to allow five and six-story buildings.

While some of you may view this as a magic solution to homelessness or housing affordability in Santa Monica, or one way to meet the state's inappropriately high RHNA housing mandates, this is a foolish and horrible idea that demonstrates a complete disregard for the concerns and wellbeing of the residents of Santa Monica.

Montana Avenue, which is the closest of these streets you have targeted for effective transformation, bordering on destruction, has always been a quiet pedestrian avenue with small-scale buildings, and mom and pop neighborhood-serving shops and restaurants that give it a unique character. When we walk down the not-so-crowded sidewalks, we run into people we know. Store owners, coffee shop workers, and lots of other pedestrians know our names and greet us with a genuine smile only a real friend can give.

Allowing such tall, high density residential buildings in neighborhoods that has been defined by the architecture that currently exists (something that was really an accident, as it was created in the absence of a master city plan) would completely destroy the historic and charming nature of this neighborhood and turn it into just another generic urban street. To many of you, this many be the cost of doing business, a way to pay back your friends and campaign donors, a part of your vision to make Santa Monica cheap, or a step toward achieving "equity" by disallowing quiet/beautiful neighborhoods. But in reality, all you'll do is betray the people who elected you and create irreversible harm to one of the world's most iconic cities. Once this is done, there is no going back. No future city council can tear down existing monstrosities or magically eliminate the many problems that will inevitably follow.

If this proposal is approved, it will have devastating effects on the quality of life for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. Increased traffic (on streets that can't take any more traffic, let alone fixe times as much!), noise pollution, crime and overcrowding are just some of the problems that will result from the construction of such large buildings in this area.

Furthermore, the increased density will put a strain on already limited resources such as schools, stores, and public transportation. It is shortsighted and foolish to believe that these thousands of new residents will magically find a way to walk, bike, or take a nonexistent subway system to their work, schools, stores etc. We don't have any of these systems in place and this fantasy of a car-free Santa Monica has never materialized and never will It is a shortsighted and irresponsible move that shows a complete lack of consideration for the needs of the community. Your duty is to current residents, not hypothetical future residents or wealthy, Wall Street backed developers, law firms, PR agencies, consultants, and lobbyists.

I demand that you reconsider this proposal immediately and take into account the opinions and needs of the people who live in these neighborhoods. The destruction of this beautiful and historic area will not be tolerated, and we will not stand by and watch as you make decisions that are clearly not in the best interests of the community.

I urge you to take a step back and consider the long-term effects of this proposal. Please preserve the unique character and charm of Montana Avenue and our other pedestrian avenues, and do not let them (and the entire character of our city) be destroyed by greedy developers and their short-sighted plans.

If it is your wish to construct more housing in Santa Monica, we can think of many more suitable locations whose streets and public facilities and infrastructure can more readily absorb such an influx of people and traffic and which actually have large parks nearby for apartment dwellers (especially children) to enjoy outdoor space. Let's talk about it and let's hear what the residents who would be impacted by such ideas have to say before taking a dark and irreversible path.

I know for fact that deciding to upzone these communities will attract even more national and regional media attention, alongside endless lawsuits and distraction for the city and it's limited human and financial resources.

I am always happy to speak with any of you individually or as a group. You may contact me at this email.


Houman David Hemmati, M.D., Ph.D.


Reader Comments(4)

Historicoverlay writes:

An historic overlay for montana /buildings will prevent any illegal fraudulent rezoning promotions.

Getitdone2326 writes:

While I don't disagree with certain streets being redeveloped, such as Lincoln, which was an ugly unproductive street, I agree with Houman. Are you guys nuts? Now you,including those that I walked the streets to get elected, are destroying streets that give us a special way of life and are productive and leased with tenents. What do you think you are doing? This is irresponsible. I believe in honesty and that is my honest opinion You may disagree and know something that I don't, but honestly?

SMbornandraised writes:

I was born and raised in Santa Monica. All I see is the elected officials ruining our city and its disgusting! Thank you David for your insight and well articulate letter!

ArthurJeon writes:

I couldn't agree more! Let's take a good hard look at what development is coming, and to press pause on as much of it as possible, starting with the up zoning of our commercial districts. To destroy the neighborhood charm of our current commercial districts, with stores and restaurants people have been visiting for years, is ANTI-RESIDENT. It is capitulating to far-off bureaucrats in Sacramento whom we should be fighting tooth and nail—they’ve got no right to tell us what our city should look and feel like. They don’t live here! We should then join the lawsuits against the housing element’s insane orders to destroy what makes our city a special place to live, and an international tourism destination. Because the corridor that’s being built on Lincoln as the entrance into our city from the freeway, doesn’t make you feel like you’ve landed in an idyl of sun, beach, air, and sea—it feels like anywhere USA, giving the city a cramped, ugly, and crowded vibe. Arthur Jeon