What a surprise! Douglas Badt, manager of the private Sand and Sea Club, was quoted in Times Staff Writer Alan Citron's article on April 30 saying, "Everyone wants the beach to stay as it is." Badt and his elite members wish to keep things as they are--they have had exclusive access to a beach site for which they pay the city of Santa Monica next to nothing.
Badt and his members . . . are suddenly outraged that a hotel will block access to the beach.
Badt is currently funding an initiative drive aptly named "Save Our Beach". Save our beach for whom? For the 200 or so wealthy members of the Sand and Sea Club? No, thank you.
Last year, the Santa Monica City Council, under pressure from the state of California, which owns the property, chose a new mixed-use plan for the club site. The goal was to dramatically improve access for all beach-goers, while generating substantial revenues for the bankrupt Beach Fund. The Beach Fund pays for the upkeep and improvement of all Santa Monica beaches.
The city chose Michael McCarty to build a hotel and community center on the Sand and Sea site. As a Pico Neighborhood activist, I was one of numerous representatives from community organizations throughout Santa Monica to help design the community center. It will include community meeting space, a staging area for public events, a low-priced cafe, a children's park, a marine and art learning center, and most importantly, year-round beach access for all of the public. A 148-room hotel at the site will pay for these public uses and will restore the Beach Fund.
Badt's initiative takes advantage of people's concerns about overdevelopment while actually preserving the private privileges of a few. The city's plan opens public access to the beach and deserves our support.