Santa Monica…A City Searching for Itself at Sea

If our city were a ship, it might be described as “floundering and adrift.” At times it seems that Santa Monica knows neither where it’s going nor, if it did, how to get there. It is difficult to make policy without a clear vision or a well-defined course of action. For example, do we see … Continue reading Santa Monica…A City Searching for Itself at Sea

Hot Enough for You?

While surviving the latest heat wave, now’s a good time to consider the big picture of our over-heated planet. We humans live comfortably in a very narrow temperature range and the world’s population (and most plants) cannot evolve their high temperature tolerance fast enough to compensate for the stress of increasing global warming. When temperatures … Continue reading Hot Enough for You?

In the Spot…light: Creative Zoning in Santa Monica

Santa Monica’s new DCP (Downtown Community Plan) identifies three sites as “Established Opportunity Sites,” although the addition of the word “established” seemed to have appeared from nowhere in the final version presented to the Council for approval. The phrase “Opportunity Site” only appears once in the Land Use Circulation Element (LUCE) of the General Plan … Continue reading In the Spot…light: Creative Zoning in Santa Monica

$76 Million for Sustainable What?

The Santa Monica City Council approved construction of a new “City Services Building” at its Aug. 8 Council meeting. As local media noted, “Council took very little time (25 minutes) to approve quite a bit of money ($76,760,000)” in green, lease revenue bonds. The actual cost of this 50,000 square foot addition to City Hall … Continue reading $76 Million for Sustainable What?

Sustainability: Who Carries the Load? Part 2.

In last week’s article we reviewed Santa Monica’s water supply, and mentioned that the total residential sector has shown the greatest decrease in water usage. From 2005 to 2013 residential water usage dropped 6 percent as the population increased 7 percent from 86,643 to 92,472. During the same period, the commercial sector’s water usage increased … Continue reading Sustainability: Who Carries the Load? Part 2.

Sustainability: Who Carries the Load? Part 1.

A couple of years back, a SMa.r.t. column on sustainability compared the City of Santa Monica’s residential and commercial sectors’ progress towards the City’s sustainability goals. Initially, it appeared that the residential sector was on track while the commercial sector was lagging. While this is still the case, the actual picture is more nuanced, as … Continue reading Sustainability: Who Carries the Load? Part 1.

A Six Pack of City Defining Areas

In our built out City, there are six significant areas of land whose eventual development will have an inordinate impact on the future of our City. Development of these areas, if left to today’s “market forces” without considering the big picture. may result in in an irretrievably lost opportunity that could distort our City for … Continue reading A Six Pack of City Defining Areas

Santa Monica’s Path to Net Zero

The City Council recently voted to accelerate Santa Monica’s adoption of the State’s new “Net Zero Energy” policy (NZE.) Although slated for adoption by 2020, the City will now require that Residents reduce their energy use by 15 percent starting in 2017 and be fully compliant by 2020. The Commercial sector has been held to … Continue reading Santa Monica’s Path to Net Zero

Money and Energy in Santa Monica

For years Santa Monica has been a willing participant in a variety of urban and civic experiments. These range from widespread rent control to sustainable buildings, to the comprehensive (and controversial) LUCE masterplan for much of the city. Now the city is embarking on a new experiment: the new City Services building, to be constructed … Continue reading Money and Energy in Santa Monica

SM.a.r.t. A House Divided Cannot Stand

Following the election, our city remains as divided as ever. Are we an urban, or a beachfront city? Who will determine our future- developers or residents? Will we continue seeing sunlit skies, trees, local merchants, and children playing in our parks? Will we walk, drive, and bicycle safely? Will we preserve what’s iconic about Santa … Continue reading SM.a.r.t. A House Divided Cannot Stand