Because of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, and the fact that Santa Monica is on complete lockdown, (everyone staying inside their homes and only going out for absolute essentials) Wilmont moved online to hold our meeting on April 7.
Our featured guest was Mayor Kevin McKeown, who gave the most recent updates, such as, it is now MANDATORY for everyone to wear a mask or face-covering outside their homes, and that the Governor has extended the 'Safer at Home' order until May 15th..
The Mayor also updated the efforts being made by the Council and city staff and especially our first responders, the SMPD AND SMFD, to keep the City safe during this unprecedented experience. McKeown says we are “flattening the curve” because we have, as a City, been proactive about taking protective measures. There are now at least 100 in Santa Monica who tested positive for Covid-19.
We also had the pleasure of welcoming Ben Allen, our State Senator, who was in the middle of giving his baby an evening bath. (Ironic isn’t it, that the online experience is affording us greater intimacies than we would ever have without it?) Ben was very helpful in giving us the perspective from Sacramento.
We had a lively interactive discussion, with many questions: How long will it last? How will we cope with the economic downturn? but the answers to most of the questions were: “We just don’t know.” Ben Allen reminded us that all the cities throughout the state are facing the same challenges, and all will be getting as much assistance from the state as possible.
One question was raised about the extension of unemployment benefits, and Ben Allen was able to promise help to one of our Wilmont residents who had been forced to go on unemployment before the crisis hit.
We will undoubtedly be holding our next meeting on Zoom again on May 5th. Beyond that, we'll let you know as events change.Stay tuned!
Mario Fonda-Bonardi, Santa Monica Planning Commissioner and Architect – talked about Santa Monica Housing: a manufactured crisis. “It’s not a crisis of quantity; it’s a crisis of affordability.”The completely unrealistic and unfunded SCAG goals: over 9000 new units of housing to be built in Santa Monica, 69% affordable push the City council to approve “upzoning.”
Background on SCAG from the Wikipedia: “The Southern California Association of Governments is the Metropolitan Planning Organization of six of the ten counties in Southern California, serving Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Ventura County. SCAG is the largest MPO in the United States, representing over 18.5 million people in an area covering over 38,000 square miles (98,000 km2). As the designated MPO, SCAG is mandated by the federal government to research and draw up plans for transportation, growth management, hazardous waste management, and air quality. Additional mandates exist at the state level.
Governance - SCAG's policy direction is guided by the 86-member official governing board known as the Regional Council. The Regional Council is composed of 67 Districts that include an elected representative of one or more cities of approximately equal population levels that have a geographic community of interest (except the City of Long Beach, which has two representatives). Additionally, membership in SCAG's Regional Council includes one representative from each county Board of Supervisors (except the County of Los Angeles, which has two representatives). SCAG's Regional Council also includes one representative of the Southern California Native American Tribal Governments. Finally, all members of the Los Angeles City Council are each considered members of the SCAG Regional Council, and the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, serves as the Los Angeles City At-Large Representative.[Greg Moreno, Santa Monica City Council, is a member of this Regional Council.
In recent years, SCAG has taken a leadership role in goods movement activities and its impact on the Southern California region. In 2008, the California State Legislature passed SB 375, which sets a framework and target dates to achieve Green House Gas reductions. This legislation impacts transportation planning, growth and development, housing, and land use decisions. It also expands the role of SCAG in setting regional targets… SCAG's main function is to coordinate growth and development on a regional level, with responsibility for the development of infrastructure and housing planning in a way that furthers the state's environmental mandates around greenhouse gases and sustainability, as well as broad state-wide goals for increased housing affordability. The state- mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment is calculated by the state government on a regional basis and in turn the SCAG distributes growth targets (including both the total number of units and the distribution of units affordable for different income categories) for each county (for unincorporated areas), city and town.”
Anastasia Foster, Elected Member of the Rent Control Board, discussed the water rate increase (109% over 5 years) and waste water increase (51% over 5 years) and the impact on rent-control renters vs. others. “If you live in a rent-controlled apartment, you most likely pay your own electric and gas bills, but not a water bill. That’s what we call a “master meter” for water. Water is included in the price of your rent. If a LL wants to, he or she can install new sub-meters for water, but that is fairly rare. Because the Rent Control Charter law does not allow for additional charges for utilities, including water, to your rent, tenants cannot and will not be billed for water.”