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Mayor Reed and the Auto Mall

November 17, 1985

There is a new and exciting idea being seriously discussed by auto dealers and residents in Santa Monica--the relocation of all auto dealerships from Santa Monica Boulevard to a new auto park to be located on a 43-acre parcel of city land adjacent to the Santa Monica Airport (Times, Nov. 10).

As reported in your article concerning the proposed auto mall, the Santa Monica Automobile Dealers Assn. has officially announced its full support for the concept and has formed a committee to work out the details of its proposal. The task force created by the Planning Commission to resolve conflicts between auto dealers and local residents has similarly endorsed the relocation to the airport area. Other elected officials have expressed support for the plan.

Despite this broad-based enthusiastic response to a development concept that is beginning to gain wide acceptance among Southern California cities, Mayor Christine Reed has apparently taken it upon herself to reject the idea on behalf of the city of Santa Monica before the city has even officially solicited proposals for the development of the airport property. According to the article, Mayor Reed stated that the car dealers "shouldn't be wasting their time" looking at the airport area because the city had already decided that office or industrial tenants would generate the most revenues for the city.

That is strange rhetoric coming from Mayor Reed, who never misses a chance to remind everyone of the sizable sales tax revenues that the city receives from the auto dealers each year. The creation of an auto park will undoubtedly result in a substantial increase in auto sales in Santa Monica and therefore increase revenues to the city. The dealers are confident that the revenues generated compare favorably with estimated revenues from other proposed uses of the property. Nothing is accomplished by casually dismissing the plan before the auto dealers have submitted financial data to the city for such comparative purposes.

Residents, including both owners and tenants, have been battling with auto dealers for years over the severe environmental problems created by the presence of so many dealerships (about 30 within a 10-block radius) adjacent to residential neighborhoods, a conflict which has most recently manifested itself in connection with Robert Kramer's proposal to build a five-story Honda dealership in the heart of the city's already congested "auto row."

The relocation of the dealerships will greatly improve the quality of residential areas near, and allow for the much-needed redevelopment of, Santa Monica Boulevard, and free up for residential development other lots in the city which are currently being utilized for car storage--factors which Mayor Reed may have overlooked in her determination to maximize revenues to the city.

For the first time, auto dealers and residents are working together toward a common goal. The auto park would provide substantial benefits for all concerned parties, including the city. We have no idea why Mayor Reed has summarily rejected this plan, but this may be the final chance for the auto dealers and residents to resolve their differences in an amicable fashion and give dealers the opportunity to build new dealerships or expand their current operations without creating intolerable burdens for nearby residents.

JACK RUBENS

JOHN BELSHER

Santa Monicans

for Reasonable Growth

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