How Inversion Begets Perversion
"Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts." - Bernard Baruch
Two major themes in a growing disenchantment with Santa Monica government are beginning to coalesce in the minds of the citizens: The first is a sense that the city government is inept at planning adequately for future needs; second, city priorities are perceived as based on political or even personal goals rather than sound principles of good government and what is best for the citizens. The first leads to loss of “liveability” and the second leads to waste of resources, degradation of democratic process, and increased costs.
Now in it's fourth decade, the city’s romance with rent control and low–income housing is bearing a bitter offspring. The constant push to increase this power base has lead to unbridled development to the point that the city’s streets are choked and gridlocked most of each day. The City’s answer to this failure to plan is for everyone to walk, take the bus, or ride a bike. The decision to route the Metro line down Colorado rather than Olympic Boulevard defies comprehension, but is illustrative of the current penchant of letting ideology and political expediency determine public policy. A recent alarming trend seen at all levels of city government is the subversion of open and transparent government by the use of texting and private email to do the day-to-day business of government. This is government in secret and these covert communication channels are ready made to facilitate violations of the Brown Act, the Oaks Initiative and corruption in general.
Facts are facts, and opinions are opinions–a simple enough concept, but City Council has compounded these into an unholy amalgam to form opinions about facts, which they then attempt to use in justification for their decisions on how to run the city. Time and again we have seen the council decide on a policy and then direct city staff to find the justification for it by cherry-picking facts and figures, or by pursuing costly and futile legal proceedings trying to get validation.
An allegation you will hear time and again from the city government is that whom-so-ever they are trying to disfranchise are “elitists”, the “one percent”, the privileged few that use the public resources for private gain. They say it about the users of the airport and they say it about the arts community at Bergamot Station. Of course the real culprits, the real privileged few, are the one percent of the one percent–the anything goes, hell-bent for development, City Council.
Many believe that the decision to route the Metro line down Colorado Blvd., is the worst decision in city history. This may prove true, but it would surely be eclipsed if the current attempts to close the Municipal Airport succeed. The misguided attempt to purloin airport land and spur yet more development has cost taxpayers millions of dollars over the last decade, damaged one of the top six revenue producers for the city, and failed miserably to develop the business potential at the airport. The City Council has neglected utterly its fiduciary responsibility to properly manage the airport.
Santa Monica Municipal Airport imposes a finite limit on high-rise development because its protected airspace cannot be encroached upon by ground-based structures. This is part of the Code of Federal Regulations and is enforced by the State of California and County of Los Angeles. Part of the Council’s desperation to close the airport is that doing so would remove these restrictions. Developers nationwide also have a vested interest in seeing these restrictions removed on some of the most desired land in the country were the airport to close.
The fact is that Santa Monica Municipal Airport is a great asset to our town, and it is ranked down at 23rdout of 25 as a source of concern by its own citizens in a citywide poll. It is one of the top economic drivers for the city and is so despite being in operation for only fifteen hours each day. Santa Monica resident’s exposure to danger is insignificant compared to other forms of transportation across the board; including threats to life and limb, pollution, and noise. Our airport gives more bang for the buck with less downside than any other acreage in the city. Our airport is safe, clean, efficient, and quiet while bringing in an excess of 250–300 million dollars a year in revenue and IT IS IRREPLACEABLE–once removed it can never be put back.