TALE OF TWO CITIES: Santa Monica nose dives while Culver City ascends

Posted on February 2, 2022 5:17 pm

TALE OF TWO CITIES: Santa Monica nose dives while Culver City ascends

Special Report From JB

Due to failure by a law firm clerk to file papers within a time deadline — a strictly technical error — a contested lawsuit to stop the demolition of a downtown Santa Monica parking structure has been dismissed by a judge.

This will clear the way for the city to turn the property into affordable and, yes, “transitional” housing — a block from the formerly world famous, now badly failing, Third Street Promenade. “Transitional”, of course, means services for the homeless, and all that comes with that.

The downtown will lose parking, and the area will be force-fed a project that will likely attract more unhoused, from around the region and nation, into the area for decades to come — a block east of the 3rd Street Promenade. And about five blocks from tony Montana Avenue and the 90402 zip code with some of the nation’s statistically most expensive 2 BA/2BR real homes. Four blocks from the world-famous beach.

This is the best use the city can think of for this project. To house and serve the homeless, including the mentally ill, and drug abusers, four blocks from the clifftops and blocks from Montana Avenue.

A walk around last night would provide any reasonable observer with ample evidence that Santa Monica’s downtown is GONE, DONE. Homeless sleeping on the street in bags, in doorways. Schizophrenics talking to themselves. Bums hanging around the entrance to the McDonalds, a chronic vagrant/undesirables magnet. The awful, shameful, downward spiral is tightening.

Last week during the early evening, with people about, an illegal hot dog vendor threatened me with a baseball bat, at mid-pier, when I locked eyes with him and said “illegal” in Spanish, to reference his unlicensed stand, which IS illegal.

(That’s all a completely separate, current SM story, how the illegal vendors are sticking it to the city/cops, and, it seems to me, they’re winning).

Illegal vendors, many of them likely to be illegal immigrants, are being handled with kid gloves by a progressive city attorney and city council, which wrings its hands but allows the insanity to continue. At one point it was wall to wall vendors on the pier and pier entrance; a public safety hazard due to cluttered pier entry/exit, fire danger to the wooden pier itself from open flames, food providers unlicensed from a health department standpoint, etc. There are many stories about this particular mess, on the net. That’s an entirely separate issue. Let’s stick with the parking garage insanity, for now.

Tonight in the course of my walk I noted that the J. Crew store which has been there for about 25 years, has finally thrown in the towel. The entire most northerly block of the Promenade is now nearly literally empty. Fifteen years ago that block had a Starbucks/Barnes and Noble, Banana Republic, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and more I’ve forgotten; now, all gone.

On the more southerly blocks, the losses include Old Navy, GAP, food establishments, and smaller businesses. It is deserted, home to vagrants, desolate, pathetic. The Promenade seems to be now about 40 percent vacant, and remaining retail seems to be largely a slew of temporary pop-up shops. It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago, there was actually a flashy Disney Store, on a prominent corner. And the blight, the vacancies, has infected surrounding blocks outside the actual Promenade.

As Santa Monica continues in a power nosedive, nearby Culver City is thiving. Yes, the dowdy Culver City that everyone would snicker at years ago, has now become the trendy place where everyone wants to go. A Hyatt brand boutique hotel with rooftop pool (The Shay) just opened this week.

The vibrant downtown area (no bums sleeping on the sidewalk) is full of activity and young people. All while Santa Monica plays Mother Teresa, and wrings its progressive hands, trying to save the world’s vagrants, bums, losers, druggies, down-and-outers.

Santa Monica is a wreck. It’s done. I arrived here in 1996 and have never seen it look and feel this bad. This decline is not due to the “retail apocalypse” or Covid. The downhill slide started long, long before those events. The downtown got the reputation of being seedy, noisy with amplified bad music, cheesy, hangout for undesirables, and, now, outright dangerous.

The crowds have voted with their feet and moved on. Progressive loser Kathleen Rawson, the longtime CEO leader of DTSM (Downtown Santa Monica) played a major role in wrecking that downtown. Amazingly, someone else has hired this wrecking machine — she has now moved on to a new job in Hollywood, where, no doubt, she will bring new destruction.

The progressive members of the Santa Monica City Council, city attorneys, city managers, and people like Rawson, past and present, have turned this town into the embarrassing trash heap it has become. Culver City has its act together, is hitting on all cylinders, putting up attractive and interesting new buildings — prosperous, positive, reaping the rewards, while Santa Monica, with its geographical blessings of climate and views — potentially a Monaco of the West Coast — has chosen to become the last line of defense for the world’s down and outers.

The architecture it chooses of late when it erects yet another affordable housing building, is hideous cheap industrial metal siding with computer punch card window openings. That, no doubt, is what will be erected on the site of the parking garage. It’s all just so disgusting to watch, as this wreck continues to unfold in slow motion, and Santa Monica a former jewel, continues its slide into the Progressive abyss.

JB is a longtime Press California reader and Santa Monica resident.

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RJ Miller
RJ Miller
4 months ago

Here it is Saturday morning, March 26, 2022, and I just came from the “Newer” Target Store that took over the Fred Segal space. NOT Once since it opened, have I found the shelves “fully stocked” except the medicine/bathroom isles. Forget the clothing or bedding ever having even half -full shelves. When I went to check out 20-minuets ago with my two bottles of Target brand “Motrin”, I asked the clerk when was the store closing since there are so many bare or almost bare shelves? Her reply (which I’m sure the manager has trained the staff for) “oh were… Read more »

Steve Housden
Steve Housden
5 months ago

Well put.

RiverFred
RiverFred
5 months ago

Demolishing parking structure 3 on 4th street for homeless housing will attract more homeless and destroy Santa Monica. Perhaps the City Council should consider a shopping cart as their icon and give homeless tours, that will certainly attract tourists.

Linda Morris
Linda Morris
5 months ago

Even at the height of its “glory,” the SM Promenade had lost the charm of its days when there were art shows and craft fairs held there a couple of times a year. The decline of the Promenade is very distressing for a SM native to watch – one who had to stop going west of Lincoln years ago. There was just too much traffic, too little convenient parking and no longer anywhere to shop for anything worth having that was “affordable” there. I foresee the city north of Wilshire protected by razor-wire soon.

James L Jacobson
James L Jacobson
6 months ago

I remember when Westwood used to be the place to be for food and entertainment until it got too hostile to private vehicle parking. Then crowds shifted to Santa Monica where the parking situation was much better. Now our City Council is determined to ruin that advantage thinking it can’t happen here. Throw the bums out!

T.L.
T.L.
6 months ago

All this may be so; HOWEVER, check out “NIXLE” and put in 90232 for the zip code. This is Culver City, and the number of robberies, assaults/muggings and gunpoint robberies is absolutely through the roof. I worked there about 20 years ago, and used to go for walks on the streets all the time…would not take that chance, now. It may be “vibrant”, but the crooks are there and it’s dangerous. So, democrats have made BOTH cities dangerous. Nice move. All those “smart”, “rich” people keep voting for the crap NONE of them have to put up with…they hire extra… Read more »

Carol
Carol
6 months ago

How long will it take to take down the statue of St. Monica at the end of Wilshire/rt 66? and say good by to the WORLD famous Santa Monica Pier and carousel and Muscle beach Christmas parade, the Nativity scenes along Palisades Park ALL gone and now the 3rd street promenade. WHY? To be replaced by “affordable” housing….paid for by the citizens. The city by the Sea has sunk………

Jon Berg
Jon Berg
6 months ago
Reply to  Carol

Carol, I’m about to make your day—that hideous, vile statue was **VANDALIZED** by a patriot or group of patriots about six weeks ago—they took a sledge hammer to it and did serious damage. See news reports/photos on the net. It had to be removed from its pedestal, to be repaired by this lefty nut job Ed Massey, its creator. No doubt, the city will contribute public funds in towards that effort. So right now, there is a red traffic cone in the hallowed spot where it stood! Hopefully the city’s blind and deaf leaders will come to realize that it… Read more »

Jon Berg
Jon Berg
6 months ago
Reply to  Jon Berg

Carol, I misinterpreted your post…..didn’t recognize that you were talking about the Beniamino Bufano statue on the cliffs—yes, no doubt, that will soon be found to be politically incorrect, too, as will the entire name “Santa Monica”. Like Squaw Valley becoming “Palisades Tahoe”, the Washington Redskins becoming the Washington Commanders (ugh), Santa Monica will be renamed Moomat Ahiko, by the city council’s social justice warriors.

Linda Morris
Linda Morris
5 months ago
Reply to  Jon Berg

Jon Berg –The art deco statue of St Monica – that you find “HIDEOUS, VILE” was sculpted in 1934 by Eugene Morahan, who is likely no longer with us. Repairs by “lefty, nutjob” Ed Massey are NOT being done by “its creator.” WHY do you find Santa Monica’s namesake vile and hideous? Have you no artistic taste? No religious appreciation? Why do you disparage the art deco era, and call the statues vandals “patriots”? If you are being cynical and sarcastic… knock it off!! You sound like a Trumper to me… “disassemble everything” then make hay during the chaos that… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Linda Morris
showandtell
showandtell
6 months ago

Good piece about a sad subject; thank you for it, JB. Used to work in both Santa Monica and Culver City and it is hard to fathom they have switched places: One is a depressing dump and the other is a shiny jewel.

Deano
Deano
6 months ago

Thank you JB. A well written, and sad piece.