From Renters Write, March 2006

SMRR’s Top Achievements

At least a dozen

1. Bringing Rent Control to Santa Monica & Maintaining our Diverse Character:  In the late ‘70s, an era of rampant speculation, seniors & low & moderate-income tenants were losing their dwellings. SMRR won a senior-initiated ballot measure for rent control & just cause evictions. In the 27 years of struggle since, we’ve enacted a web of subtle and direct protections (including an anti-harassment law) aimed at keeping renters secure in their homes. We hope to maintain Santa Monica’s historically diverse ethnicities, ages & income levels.

2. Controlling Development & Keeping a Human-Scale City Requires Public Participation:  Starting the month we won our first Council-majority, we’ve significantly reduced development densities and heights along our commercial corridors. We also downzoned our multi-family apartment districts to make sure that new buildings maintain the scale and character of our neighborhoods.  This past year, we helped stop the 25-story condo towers a developer proposed for Santa Monica Place and contributed to Land Use debate by calling for severe limits to commercial growth.  From the first, we prioritized opening such debates to the whole community by forcing information out and demanding more & more opportunities for public participation.

3. Pioneering Sustainable & Responsible Environmental Policies:  We initiated an internationally studied & emulated municipal environmental policy, including model residential recycling programs; toxic-substance recycling; a cutting-edge urban-runoff reduction, diversion, and recycling program to help clean Santa Monica Bay; and one of the most advanced alternative-fuel vehicle programs in the US. When MTBE leaks from gas stations contaminated our independent water supply, Santa Monica won pioneering lawsuits against major oil companies & now is restoring our water to its historically high quality (and bad taste ; >).

4. Revitalizing our Downtown & Restoring the Santa Monica Pier:  We envisioned the vital potential of our historic downtown, which led to the pedestrian-friendly Third Street Promenade & continuing steps to revitalize the surrounding streets.  Our restoration plan for the storm-ravaged Santa Monica Pier continued its historic role as a zone for fun & amusement while enhancing its wholesome, family orientation.

5. Offering a Range of Transit Options & Encouraging Healthy Lifestyles:  We have promoted & enhanced our excellent transit options, from the award-winning Big Blue Bus & Tide shuttles to senior & disabled paratransit to bike paths to measures to make our streets & sidewalks pedestrian-safe. We encourage light rail to come to Santa Monica as soon as possible.  SMRR’s first mayor, Ruth Goldway, brought the first certified Farmers’ Market to Southern California—we now have four.

6. Exercising Fiscal Responsibility:  Our careful and responsible policies have made Santa Monica one of  the most fiscally sound cities in California, with a coveted AAA bond rating. 

7. Making our Schools & Life-Long Learning a Priority:  We have actively supported Santa Monica schools from our beginnings.  When state cutbacks threaten our high-quality standards, we are at the forefront of community efforts to pass local school & college ballot measures to fill the gap.  Ongoing, unrestricted city funding to the school district now stands at over $6 million a year, along with a like amount of in-kind resources for joint city/school programs.   We have also supported a range of programs designed to make Santa Monica a Life-Long Learning community, from early child pre-school to the Emeritus College for seniors.

8. Supporting the Production of Affordable Housing:  In the early ‘80s we helped institute & continue to support Community Corporation of Santa Monica, which builds and manages many hundreds of units of new housing affordable to low to median-wage workers & their families, & has rehabilitated hundreds more.  We push adoption of ordinances which require developers of market-rate housing  add their fair share of affordable housing as well.  

9. Creating a Superb New Main Library:  We added our voice to the creation the magnificent, brand-new downtown Santa Monica Public Library, with a host of community facilities & amenities above & beyond its full menu of state-of-the-art library and information services.  It is wrapped in a building that employs cutting-edge environmentally friendly features and new needed parking.

10. Increasing Parks & Recreation Facilities:  We have pushed for and implemented significant enhancements of city parks with the creation and expansion of Virginia Park, Clover Park, and Ocean View Park--with Airport Park soon to follow.  In addition, we pushed for the restoration of Palisades Park, Christine Reed Park, and Douglas Park.

11. Responding Humanely & Creatively to the Challenges of Homelessness & Providing a Caring Web of Social Services for those in Need:  We have established a humane local approach to the national tragedy of homelessness and warmly welcome added community support to this effort.   We’ve for years stressed the need for a regional partnership, and with the fresh efforts of new faces, we appear to be heading in that direction. City funding for social services to the poor, disabled & elderly has increased from $50,000 the year before we won our first  Council seat to the current millions of dollars a year.  We stress serving seniors and disabled residents so they can stay in their homes.

12. Promoting the Arts & Culture:  We have helped Santa Monica become a renowned arts-friendly city, with increased city funding for the arts and community cultural activities, including annual celebrations such as the Santa Monica Festival, Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth & the Summer Dance Series.  We established the Arts Commission and a public percent for the arts program.  Public art now abounds. We aided in starting Bergamot Station and supported saving the Aero Theater and the Santa Monica Playhouse.  Art & culture do not simply serve a community, they sustain and create it.