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New Group Formed to Fight City Hall


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By Jorge Casuso

January 12, 2024 -- A new player entered Santa Monica's crowded political arena this week with a website focused on public safety and a video that has garnered more than 1,400 views.

Santa Monicans United (SMU) was formed by "concerned residents and local businesses" to "champion common-sense policies that foster a safer, cleaner, and more affordable Santa Monica," the group announced in a press release Wednesday.

SMU has come together "against a backdrop of increasing deterioration in Santa Monica’s quality of life" due to a persistent homeless problem and a rise in crime, the group said.

"Santa Monica is in crisis, and my heart goes out to the residents and struggling businesses that have been impacted by the city’s decline," Leana Greene, the group's CEO said in a statement.

"I don’t even feel safe having my son walk home from school," she added.

Although not a Political Action Committee (PAC), SMU is expected to back candidates and support or oppose ballot measures in the pivotal 2024 local elections.

Santa Monica's homeless crisis, the group argues, is the result of substance abuse and mental health issues, not a shortage of affordable housing that is at the center of the City's Housing First homeless policies ("Unanimous Council Vote Masks Deep Disagreements About Homelessness," May 12, 2023).

SMU supports significantly increasing the number of sworn officers on the police force and providing the "necessary resources to safeguard residents and businesses," according to the site.

The group notes that Santa Monica was ranked one of California's most unsafe cities and that its homeless population, which is largely transient, has grown ("Santa Monica Among State's Least Safe Cities, Report Finds," March 24, 2022 and "Santa Monica's Homeless Numbers Rise After COVID-Driven Drop," May 4, 2023)..

On its website, SMU criticizes the City for failing to fight County policies that are worsening Santa Monica's homeless problem.

They include a County-run needle exchange program in public spaces and regional public transit policies that "use Santa Monica as a nightly drop off for an estimated 80 homeless individuals."

Among the group's other "core pillars" is "revitalizing the city's business districts" and "safeguarding irreplaceable neighborhoods and businesses."

Other cornerstones include safegaurding rent control, giving Santa Monica residents priority for new affordable housing and creating a pathway for tenants to own their units.

The group seems to be gaining quick traction. A video titled "Santa Monica Is In Crisis" posted by SMU on YouTube had nearly 1,500 views in its first six days.

Those numbers rival the most-watched City Council meetings, which typically get far fewer than 1,000 views.

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