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LETTERS -- Where's the Analysis?

Dear Editor,

The City Council is about to take a step that will change the nature of Santa Monica forever ("Council Could Immediately Streamline Permit Process to Spur Housing Development," March 5, 2020).

At its meeting Tuesday, it plans to adopt an emergency ordinance that would allow fast-tracking housing projects, skipping levels of review, including that of the public.

Left unrestrained by public outrage, large, dense Soviet-style housing projects will spring up in every corner of the city. Why this rush to annihilation?

An obscure group of non-elected government apparatchiks known as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) decreed that Santa Monica should add 8,874 more low-cost housing units to one of the densest cities in the state within the next nine years.

It has no authority to enforce this dictate; nor is there a penalty to ignoring it, as other cities have done with their “allotments.”

There has been no fact-based data on how SCAG came up with its numbers.

What agency has authority to enforce the 8,874 number imposed on the city? What is the penalty for not meeting that ridiculous goal? What are other cities doing: suing, not acting, etc.? ("SPECIAL REPORT -- Santa Monica Scrambles to Meet Housing Targets Other Cities Are Opposing," March 9, 2020).

Nor has Santa Monica done an analysis of how an additional 20,000 people would affect us. With its many staff "urban planners" it should be analyzing just what effect that huge number would have on the city's traffic, water supply, schools, police and fire departments.

However, SCAG’s housing "mandate" feeds right into the Council's predisposed interest: to build, build, build.

The Council sees a way to cut out public input and seizes it. Why doesn't the City slow down and, here’s a novel idea, base its decisions on facts, not ideology?

Once again the City is putting the cart before the horse as it did with e-scooters. First it allowed them to overrun our public space and then put in place “pilot" studies.

Where is the data to support that Santa Monica can add 8,874 units without damaging the fabric of the city?

This time, let it do the analysis first and then decide whether the city can handle thousands more units and people.

We're facing an existential crisis in the city by the sea. It's about to become the slums by the sea.

Harriet P. Epstein
Santa Monica


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