Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

DTSM Inc is a Corrupt Agency that is Contributing to the Ruination of Santa Monica's Downtown Area

While the Promenade looks better than a few months ago, after the new security agency came on board, all is far from well

May 29, 2024 - Downtown Santa Monica Inc, the nonprofit, quasi-governmental agency that is responsible for the cleanliness, security, and prosperity of that area, is being accused of conflict of interest among some of its board members, poor money management, and general dereliction of duty and incompetence. The borders over which DTSM assumes control are Ocean Avenue on the west, Lincoln Blvd., on the east, Wilshire Blvd. on the north, and the SM 10 Freeway on the south. A majority of its board are appointed by the Santa Monica City Council with one member the City Manager, David White.

John Alle, a longtime property and business owner in Santa Monica, wrote out his charges against DTMS Inc in a recent email. First, he pointed out the ineligibility and inappropriate nature of those making up DTSM's board. "Many Board members have no retail experience, no experience owning, leasing, selling or managing retail stores, They are developers (one of which is COO of Cypress Equities constructing some of the tallest and densest residential/mixed-use projects against the will of the people), non-profit executives (some of whom provide services in those same projects), and some using their position as a 'stepping stone' toward higher elected office or appointments."

After attending a DTSM subcommittee meeting, Alle was curious why DTSM Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thomas "could not answer why:

1) There may be a need for an increase in assessments.

2) Less than 15% of DTSM's budget is spent on promotion and advertising.

3) Walk-in theft occurs within 90% of ground floor retail stores from Ocean Avenue to 5th Street, and Wilshire to Broadway. Occurrences vary from 20 incidents per month to once an hour.

4) Little of the walk-in theft is included in DTSM's reporting or Santa Monica Police logs because the thieves or assailants are gone before the Police arrive, and retailers are concerned about losing their insurance.

5) The majority of retailers on the Promenade and immediate surrounding streets want more of a Police presence walking on the streets, and not just 'ghost' cars.

6) Sales have declined among retail and restaurants between 14% to 70%. This in spite of landlords reducing rents much lower than what the City charges per square foot for outdoor dining space

7) 6 of the last 7 new tenants (which are not 'pop-ups') on the 3rd Street Promenade have lasted less than 14 months.

8) DTSM claims the vacancy rate is 25%. The true vacancy rate building by building is 40%. DTSM does not include large 9,000-13,000 sf buildings that are divisible into smaller units.

9) Retailers close at dusk due to lack of shoppers and increased crime. Never seen before.

10) Ground floor tenants discourage their employees from parking in the City-owned garages due to high crime, and many pay extra for their employees to park in privately-owned garages.

11) Unarmed private security guards from Legion Corporation who are supposed to patrol and walk the Promenade and adjacent streets, have been recorded and photographed leaving their jobs earlier than the agreed-upon 10 PM, and instructing homeless drug junkies, some with weapons, to move in front of stores that have no security monitor cameras until they return the next morning at 6 AM.

12) On many days guards from Legion Corporation do not arrive on the Promenade or on any street, until 7:30 AM, 90 minutes past their agreed-upon start time. And the City does not pay for their cost. The assessment-paying stakeholders do.

13) The City, with consultation with DTSM CEO Andrew Thomas, decided the City would no longer pay to have its maintenance team clean the garages. The parking operator is supposed to, but doesn't.

14) DTSM CEO has hired additional Ambassadors. Some are videoed with a small broom and dustpan walking behind City Street Maintenance Street Cleaning workers. WORSE...some are videoed walking on the sidewalks in front of dense, high-rise construction sites owned by Cypress Equity Investments, whose COO Bruce Fairty, is a DTSM Board Member.

14) Good Guard Security, hired to patrol the parking garages and inspect the elevators. is not present. A guard is seen most nights in the alleyway outside Parking Garage 4, but that's it. Some of he homeless using the garages are getting raped, stabbed and robbed in the garages.

15) The homeless shelter stated by City Manager David White to be open 24-7 at The People Concern (at 509 Olympic) is a sham. Only sworn Police Officers may bring unhoused people inside, but the wait is 4 hours for Police response.

16) The mental health and multi-disciplinary C-3 outreach teams described by City Manager David White are in place and 4 to 5 City Staff Members were hired to oversee this project, but the program has not been funded for over a year and is not in operation.

17) DTSM's CEO Andrew Thomas will not accept phone calls or in-person visits from many Stakeholders, and has said he will respond only by email.

18) In evaluating DTSM's office space, CEO Andrew Thomas did NOT review proposals from several Stakeholders who were willing to have their space considered at lower rates and interior improvements as part of the package, some even at 100% free rent.

19) DTSM's executive committee, consisting of current SM City Council candidate Barry Snell, agreed to a salary contract with CEO Andrew Thomas, that included an automatic annual CPI increase AND "Job Performance Bonus." Both of which he received last year and for which he is asking next month as well.

Sadly, CEO Andrew Thomas and his staff are the only ones reaping salary and bonus revenue increases on the entire Promenade.

20) Despite DECREASING revenue, CEO Andrew Thomas has increased his staff at considerable cost to assessment-paying stakeholders.

21) Despite great efforts by property owners on the Promenade to market and lease their space, Barry Snell, DTSM Board Member, former Board Chair, and current City Council Candidate, without any vernal reaction from the CEO, has even suggested charging property owners a fee for every month their space on the Promenade remains vacant.

22) DTSM CEO Andrew Thomas has refused, despite requests and actual pleas from some of DTSM's Board and Committee Members, to meet more than once a month. As a result, there is no progress and the same issues are discussed over and over.

23) Yesterday at 3 PM, in front of Foot Lockers, at the northeast corner of the Promenade and Arizona, there was an 'entrepreneur' selling goods and merchandise from a cart at bargain prices he said he and his 'team' had stolen from retailers actually leasing space on the Promenade."

Alle is part of a group of 50 other business owners who are suing to leave DTSM.


Reader Comments(3)

JohnAlle writes:

As a follow-up I would like to say that if the Police do not arrive in time to speak with both parties, a Report or even an arrest can not not be made. It simply becomes a call or incident. And businesses are not eager to report their losses to their insurance company for fear of losing coverage altogether. That is a fact and is actually occurring to property and business owners. We can and will cite numerous examples. In addition, financing of interior tenant improvements and new construction in Downtown Santa Monica has become more difficult. The new development on the 1400 block of the Promenade was turned down for financing and took months before the current lender stepped up. New projects will also be delayed or shelved until leasing improves beyond month-to-month and 'pop-up' stores. Right now there is no investor confidence in Downtown Santa Monica, unless the pricing is deeply discounted.

WesternWind writes:

I am sorry to see the Observer become a tentative propagandist for The Coalition. Hopefully it will see through the fog. But to the point: if the police don't see the crime and the stores don't report the crime, then is there a crime?

Bobby writes:

88 cities in la county. Santa Monica the only one inviting drug addicts to come to our parks to live, use drugs, and terrorize taxpayers and innocent children. Why are we the only city doing this? Ask David white, city council, and city attorney. Ask them every day why they are inviting non city criminals to come here and terrorize residents.