A wonderful event occurred on Aug. 19, 1986, which will undoubtedly benefit the entire community of Santa Monica. This exciting moment took place at a special session of the City Council at City Hall.
The council, by unanimous vote (6-0, Councilman James Conn was absent), created a new assessment district. . . . The areas involved are the Old Mall and the adjoining streets, 2nd and 4th. This area has often been referred to as the "heart of Santa Monica" because of its strategic location within the city.
As most citizens of Santa Monica know, this major step did not unfold overnight. In fact, this entire process took approximately 2 1/2 years to produce a feasible, as well as practical, plan. Of equal importance, along with the adoption and ratification of the specific plan and the financing, is the framework and community-wide support that helped bring this program to fruition.
I am referring to the partnership that evolved over time between the numerous and diverse interest groups including, but not limited to, the city government, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of associations made up . . . (of) people who either own property, work, live or have a retail business on the Old Mall. . . .
It is important to note that there was not always agreement among these groups. Each of them had individual concerns that needed to be heard. It is my sincere belief that the Third Street Development Corp. did provide strong and clear leadership for all interested parties as the plan was being developed. The (corporation) did its best to remain objective throughout the entire process as well as to provide a clear and open line of communication from the private sector to the City Council, its staff and concerned departments. The results speak well for all of the aforementioned participants.
I'm sure that there are still some people in the community who, if given the chance, would have summarily rejected the plan. There are probably some people who still have reservations about the plan and its goals even though they are in general agreement that something had to be done. For all of these people, I suggest the following thought for their consideration:
Little, if any, worthwhile change has ever taken place without a certain amount of effort and some element of risk. If, for some reason beyond anyone's control, the renovation of this important part of Santa Monica falls short of what we all hope for, then that would be unfortunate. But personally, I'd much rather risk that possibility than to sit idly by and accept a fate that clearly leaves no doubt as to what the result would most certainly be.
It is far better, in my opinion, that all of those who have been involved be remembered for having dared to dream and accept this challenge, than to be numbered among those that simply did nothing because it would require a commitment from them and perhaps some amount of effort as well.
All too often, in the recent past, Santa Monica and its government have received a great deal of negative press. I'm not sure that it was always done in the spirit of objective reporting. However, this is an outstanding example of democracy at work--where the citizens at large and the government worked together, over time, toward achieving a worthwhile goal. I personally applaud them one and all and I wish us all Godspeed and good fortune in the days ahead.
ERNEST A. KAPLAN
Third Street Development Corp.