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"State of the City" an Upbeat View in Hard Times  

By Michael Aushenker
For The Lookout News

January 31, 2011 -- Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and City Manager Rod Gould shared the municipal spotlight Thursday as “State of the City 2011” gave a prognosis of the City’s condition and a prediction of things to come.

The upbeat affair left attendees feeling confident that Santa Monica will triumph over the current economic doldrums facing communities nationwide.

Mayor Bloom came to the dais with all cannons firing: “From San Vicente to Sunset Park, from Centinela to the sea, it is great to be here today…We are lucky and fortunate…to be Santa Monicans.”

Bloom led a round of applause for the Santa Monica civil servants in attendance, in addition to City Council’s Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis and councilmembers Pam O’Conner and Terry O’Day.

While likening past relations between City officials and the community as “scorpions in a bottle,” Bloom said, “Today I feel that we have found common ground. By collaborating, we can achieve extraordinary things.”

Despite California reporting the second-highest unemployment stats in America, Bloom said of Santa Monica, “We are a leader of job creators.” He looked forward to “a new California that will emerge from the current crisis.”

And he was optimistic about one of the city's intractable problems, homelessness.

“We are solving homelessness. Not just to address homelessness but to end it,” Bloom said.

Gould took a hard look at the problems Santa Monica faces.

“California’s cities are struggling to maintain city services,” he said. “The Golden State is in severe fiscal distress. Santa Monica is not immune to these pressures.”

Gould acknowledged that with unemployment projected to drag on for another three to four years and the community still feeling the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its aftermath, Santa Monica will have to update fees and charges, and increase taxes “not raised for many years.”

“Flat is the new up,” Gould said, which elicited laughs from the audience.

But he said that the “smart, sophisticated and engaged citizens” of Santa Monica are resilient, and he described the City’s employees as “proud and protective of the City of Santa Monica.”

Gould looked forward to the various city projects in progress – becoming 100 per cent water self-sufficient, the Bergamot Transit Village, Palisades Gateway Park and Town Square, the redesigning of 360 bus stops by Big Blue Bus and bike-friendly implementations – as the moves which will make Santa Monica “the shining city of the hill.”

Also sharing the stage was Santa Monica College President Chui Tsang.

Tsang noted that in 2011, “we’ll be facing the most challenging time in our history” with state budget cuts on schools.

However, he said, in 2010 his campus managed to send 100 students to Berkeley University and 200 to USC.

“We achieved all of this without raising the fees of our students,” Tsang said.

Attendees were also treated to a film by CityTV's Robin Gee highlighting the city's achievements in 2010, including the $256-million overhaul of Santa Monica Place, $1.6 million raised by Save Our Schools, the passage of the Y and YY measures, and even Chez Jay’s 51 years in business.

The gathering was the brainchild of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and the 20 sponsors included included Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Santa Monica Place.


"From San Vicente to Sunset Park, from Centinela to the sea, it is great to be here today.We are lucky and be Santa Monicans."
Mayor Richard Bloom



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