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Open Spaces Are Vanishing Quickly

January 03, 1988

Amid reports of congestion, coastal problems and insufficient sewage capacity, the Santa Monica Planning Commission approves the "massive" Water Garden office project. This is based upon the developer's agreement to spend money on traffic management and other "mitigation measures." ( Mitigation measures is a catch-all designed to get a development built in spite of local protest. It's like allowing a thief into your home on the promise that he won't take too much.)

Every moment, the city and developers are cramming everything they can get into every space available. Huge buildings pop up constantly along Olympic Boulevard, where few community groups have any power. And where there is community action, citizens are constantly thwarted by loopholes, carelessness and city decisions that begin to seem very deliberate. And we, it seems, are the only ones concerned with consequences.

We watch buffer zones worn away, communities pressured to allow residential property to be rezoned into commercial, politicians promising control but taking it away at every opportunity, and neighbors forced into a door-to-door struggle to maintain the integrity of their communities. And "mitigation measures" are supposed to protect us. We have found the result only less of a bad thing. It seems that those with money and political power are willing to beat us senseless in order to improve our lives!

There should no longer be a question of whether a project will improve this community. I'm not sure this community needs any more projects. We should not have to hear developers tell us they will "make traffic better" or "improve our lives with shopping malls." Or that "developers have rights and that's it!" (which we have heard often from our politicians).

Maybe it's time to allow only parks and parking areas to be built. Maybe a city that has been willing to condemn people's homes for boondoggles should condemn a few mini-malls for open spaces. Or maybe we should all leave and allow politicians and developers to build their office space and tax base from end to end and top to bottom. God knows they need breathing room!

ALLAN RABINOWITZ

Los Angeles

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