From Renters Write - July 2012

Making Santa Monica Better

For the last 18 months, I have been honored to serve you as the Mayor Pro Tempore of Santa Monica and it has been a busy time. My colleagues on the City Council and I have worked hard to ensure that Santa Monica remains a vibrant and livable community for all its residents.

For example, we extended the requirement that a landlord have a demonstrable just cause for eviction to all tenants regardless of whether a unit is rent controlled. The City Council significantly raised minimum relocation benefits for all tenants who are forced to relocate and strengthened protections for tenant households that include seniors, children, and disabled persons.

With these actions, we protected the diversity and stability that make Santa Monica such a special place to live. We also made Santa Monica a more sustainable place to live by adopting a plan to become water self-sufficient by 2020, banning single-use plastic bags that litter our beaches and the ocean, and finally cracking down on illegal use of noisy and polluting leaf blowers. Our efforts in this regard were recognized when Santa Monica won the prestigious Siemens Sustainable Community Award.

At the same time, we made it easier to get around Santa Monica. The council expanded senior transit options to include “door through door” service that not only provides transportation to seniors but helps them get groceries and other purchases into their homes. The traffic light synchronization project is nearing completion, the Big Blue Bus continues to improve its award-winning service, and the Expo light rail line is scheduled to begin service to Santa Monica in 2015. If two-wheel transport is your style, we finalized and began to implement a terrific Bike Action Plan. Bike racks and new bike lanes are cropping up all over Santa Monica and we opened a new bike facility at the beach to improve biking skills and educate riders about the law and safe riding practices.

No matter how you move around Santa Monica, you will see evidence of our continuing commitment to open space. We have begun to build the Palisades Garden Walk, a beautiful new ocean-view park that will provide opportunities for active fun and quiet contemplation. The Urban Forest Master Plan has been adopted and will bring hundreds of new trees to Santa Monica. And for our younger residents, I am proud that we recently approved plans to build the city’s first universally accessible playground. This playground will provide a wonderful opportunity for children of all abilities to play together in a safe and beautifully-designed environment.

Our younger residents also will benefit from the City’s ongoing commitment to our public schools. The Council provided a stable and predictable source of income for the schools when it extended its facilities use agreement with the school district (which allows residents to use school recreational facilities when school is not in session) for ten years. In November 2010, the voters approved a new transaction and use tax and overwhelmingly advised the City Council that they would like half of the proceeds of that tax to go to the public schools. We heeded the will of the voters and signed an agreement with the schools that will allow one-half of the new revenues to support our public schools.

Finally, we recognize that our young people are only in school part of the time. The City’s Youth Resource Team has adopted a “Cradle to Career” strategy to provide all youth with the education, skills, and opportunities that they need to succeed. One important part of this initiative is the finalization of plans for and imminent construction of the Pico Neighborhood Library. This new library will bring new opportunities for learning and recreation to an underserved area.

I am proud to be part of a community that is able to do so much for its residents. I hope you are too.