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Santa Monica Wrestles With Its Identity Crisis

October 21, 2002

I don't know what rose-colored glasses were worn to get the facts on Santa Monica's current state of affairs ("Sea Change in Santa Monica," Oct. 16). However, as a lifelong resident of this city, the only thing I concur with is that Santa Monica has indeed changed since the renters-rights progressives took the helm of government in 1979. Santa Monica used to be a quiet, compatible mix of owners and tenants. Apartment and business owners were long-term and small-time. And city leaders represented a broad range of concerns and interests, unlike the social icons of today who gear laws to favor only one narrow constituency.

Under the social engineering of renters' rights, Santa Monica has emerged as an overdeveloped, crowded, superficial, divisive magnet for rich liberals clutching lattes in their uncalloused hands while workers clean their rent-controlled apartments for zip wages. Carrying newspapers and laptops around on sunny days, these same busybody activists plan their latest strategy for controlling business corridors near the beach, sympathetically calling it a "living-wage ordinance."

Liberal policymakers are also furrowing their brows, trying to figure out how to fend off the throngs of transients who were originally invited to Santa Monica by the unthinking, anti-resident, lax policies they created.

Jan Tousignant

Santa Monica

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Santa Monica has betrayed its past and the rapidly shrinking majority of its constituency.

The city attorney's office is afraid of its shadow and does not in any way forcefully enforce the laws on the books to protect tenants. The Department of Building and Safety fails to follow up on gross violations, as it knows the city attorney's office won't do anything anyway. The City Council is afraid to confront the city attorney's office even though it knows the laws are being violated, people's rights are being trampled and nothing is being done to stop it. The few who haven't sold out are left to scratch, scrape and fight an increasingly difficult uphill battle as Santa Monica becomes, not Beverly Hills by the sea, but worse yet, Newport Beach.

Though I live in West Los Angeles now, I spent 15 years in Santa Monica as a witness -- and then became a victim -- of this sea change. Big money and developers rule. The heart and soul and character of Santa Monica and the protection of many rights for the average citizen who doesn't have deep pockets are rapidly becoming things of the past.

Linda Rubin

Los Angeles

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If left-wingers in Santa Monica want a home and they really value "funk," why not set up shop in Compton or South-Central Los Angeles or even Inglewood? Come on, why live a lie? Walk the talk and I'll have some respect for you.

Luis G. Martinez

Los Angeles

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