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Promenade at Issue

May 12, 1991

Some of the comments made by Santa Monica Councilmen Kelly Olsen and Ken Genser about the Third Street Promenade (Times, April 4) were of great concern to me.

The renovation of the old mall has been a long and arduous process. Numerous community workshops were conducted over several years. Now, these councilmen are intent on playing Monday morning quarterback. Reasonable and thoughtful people know and understand that a project such as this is going to face new problems that could not have been contemplated during the initial creation of the Mall Specific Plan. A reasonable person tries to understand the nature of a problem as it arises and then, through sound management, arrive at a solution and then put a positive plan of action into effect.

From what I am observing, these gentlemen have been quick to point the finger of blame, but have not come up with equitable and workable solutions. Their solution appears to be the quick fix: prohibit all further restaurant development and liquor licenses, without evaluating new applicants case by case. In my opinion, neither of these men represent the majority wishes of our community on this project, and they would be well served to be more sensitive to what has transpired concerning this project over a long time.

It is important to call their attention to the historical fact that each City Council that has served since the creation of the Third Street Development Corp. (now the Bayside District Corp.) until my recent resignation as chairman of the board voted unanimously in favor of the many issues that required council approval on this project. Those past council members must have believed that the corporation was thoughtful, responsible and successful at leading the restoration of this community asset in a sensitive and meaningful manner.

The success of this project, in partnership with the city, speaks for itself. Olsen and Genser should join with Bayside in working together toward an even better Promenade, instead of creating exaggerated, ugly issues with irresponsible political rhetoric.

It has taken years to re-establish a positive image and atmosphere that would encourage and attract new development on the Promenade. But as a result of our efforts, we now have a center where the community can gather and enjoy a collection of diverse activities in an open and inviting environment.

The job is a long way from being completed. It would not take much to send out the wrong message. The manner in which Olsen and Genser appear to be positioning themselves in regard to the Promenade and its future development is not helpful or constructive. Questions and issues they have raised at City Council meeting are important and need to be examined carefully--but not in an atmosphere of polarization.

Why can't the partnership that has worked so well continue? Why are these councilmen aligning themselves against all those who have worked so diligently to re-build this part of our city? What do they hope to gain by the tactics they are employing?

These are but some of the key questions I would ask both of them to consider. If their intentions are well-meaning and honorable, then I for one would appreciate some clear answers to these questions.

ERNEST A. KAPLAN

Santa Monica

Editor's note: Kaplan is former chairman of Bayside District Corp., the nonprofit company that operates the Third Street Promenade.

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