Santa Monica Lookout
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The Art of Enjoyment in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

July 24, 2013 --Everyday in Santa Monica, joggers run through Palisades Park, swimmers dive into the Municipal Pool and strollers stop to admire a public sculpture.

When they do, they seldom give a thought to the work that goes into making sure these experiences are enjoyable.

As head of Community and Cultural Services, it is Karen Ginsberg’s task to make sure that recreation and art become an integral part of life and help enhance the city’s wellbeing.

“I think there is a synergy,” says Ginsberg, who took over the department when Barbara Stinchfield retired at the end of 2011. “The quality of life issues are interrelated with those things our department focuses on.”

Ginsberg, whose department includes Parks and Recreation, is in charge of activities that take place in City parks and public spaces, including events at the Annenberg Community Beach House and the Miles Memorial Playhouse.

But her job is more than about play. When a new park is built, or a public sculpture is unveiled, or a homeless person housed, it is under the watch of her department, which is one of the City’s largest with some 300 employees.

“My day to day is varied,” Ginsberg says. “I’m involved in everything from capital improvement projects to community recreation – from questions about the allocation of swim lanes at the public pool to permits for surf classes.”

Ginsberg is currently involved in two major projects that will dramatically change the Downtown and the neighboring Civic Center. She and her staff are providing input for the proposed development of a City-owned three-acre site at Fourth Street and Arizona Avenue into a new town center.

And Ginsberg has been in charge of overseeing the construction of Tongva Park, a 6-acre parcel at the Civic Center that will connect Main Street to Palisades Park. The park is scheduled to open in the fall.

“There’s really going to be a new neighborhood that doesn’t exist now at the Civic Center,” says Ginsberg, who has an MA in planning from Columbia University in New York.

“It’s rewarding to see how people end up using and engaging the spaces we have a role in programming and planning.”

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