Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

A Convo About Santa Methica, 35,000 Feet Above Kentucky

The destruction has been cumulative, the product of years

In Early November, I had an illuminating conversation about Santa Monica on American 2916 heading west from LaGuardia to Dallas/Ft. Worth. The middle seat on the Airbus was empty and the 60ish gentleman sitting in the aisle seat was well groomed and well dressed. Quiet at first, he began to chat somewhere over Kentucky. Introduced himself as Paul K., a lifetime New Yorker, proud of his humble southern Italian origins and subsequent success in the restaurant/food business. He three years ago moved his family to suburban Dallas, as he observed the deterioration of the quality of life in New York. I commiserated, telling him how I've been in "Los Angeles" for 27 years, that that was to be my final destination today, and that I was distressed, too, at how far the city and state have fallen in the past seven or so years. At this point, I had yet not mentioned the name of the specific "Los Angeles" community in which I live.

Paul motored on, telling me how for many years in a row, he would bring his entire family to **Santa Monica,** staying right on the beach in the nice hotels and spending on average $12,000 to $15,000 per trip. Then, he said that the family stopped coming four years ago, when he became concerned about the obvious deterioration of the place---specifically, the vagrancy and general atmosphere not conducive to family vacationing. Paul and family continue to travel domestically, but, elsewhere. Santa Methica has permanently lost that annual twelve to fifteen K. We talked all the way into the DFW terminal, my connecting point, and his final destination. I think we both gained something from the conversation.

As I waited to board the final leg to LAX, I immediately realized that I had my next contribution to the Observer, essentially all written for me and presented turnkey with a bow. This "Paul" story is a microcosm of what has been going on at the macro level.

Santa Methica after years of decline under SMRR's radical iron boot, has slipped from world-renowned beachside hip trendy city, to skippable, sketchy/dangerous footnote. International travelers have stayed away, not come back, even after Covid, and domestic and even local visitation is of course also dramatically down from the peak years of the "oughts." The lost tax revenue is incalculable. The town has been steered into a bottomless elevator shaft, our hapless city council continuing its insane anti-police, pro-vagrancy stance, as the incompetent Punchinellos at Downtown Santa Monica Inc. fight endless inane, woke battles centering on which private security company to hire or fire.

The destruction has been cumulative, the product of years. And, yes, it IS dismal, despite the recent cheerleading by people like Lauren Howland, SM Communications and Public Information Manager, who has been trying to put lipstick on the pig that is the departure in February of the REI store downtown. The cheerleaders are desperate, grasping at straws, lauding new store arrivals, while not mentioning that as many Promenade and downtown stores are closing up as are opening.

All the while, the crime continues. The endless parade of published photos of the characters arrested in Santa Methica looks like the week's most entertaining highlights from Yet, incredibly, they are welcomed to our city, called "our fellow citizens" by some of our city council members and city manager, with needle exchange programs and little push-back from law enforcement.

This evening, Dec. 14, before I sat down to finalize this submission, I did my air and exercise Promenade/Pier route. As I studied the menu outside The Albright, a visitor from Bellingham, Washington asked me about the food. I said I wouldn't patronize the place because one of the owners [Greg Morena] was a former SM city councilman whose positions on SM issues I generally found inimical. Mr. Visitor said he had last visited SM in 2013, and, upon arrival in town this week on business, immediately noticed the decay and rot that has taken hold in those ten years.

Looks like strangers---visitors, or, should I say, ex-visitors or soon-to-be ex visitors--- are writing the stories for me. Thanks, guys.


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