Santa Monica Lookout
Dozens Vie for Position on Santa Monica Civic Working Group
By Jason Islas
October 15, 2013 -- More than two dozen candidates have tossed their hats in the ring to be on a new group charged with the task of finding ways to save Santa Monica's outdated Civic Auditorium.
The City Council, when it put out the call in August for community members with expertise suited to help drum up the funds necessary to update the dilapidated 55-year-old building, has attracted a field of 28 candidates, most of whom are newcomers to the Santa Monica political scene.
Of the 28 candidates, the City Council will pick five to serve alongside representatives from four of Santa Monica's major commissions on the nine-person Civic Working Group (CCWG).
“The Civic Working Group's role is to determine the best direction that's most likely to meet the” needs of the community and the economic reality of upgrading and running the Civic Auditorium, said Nina Fresco, who was selected to represent the Landmarks Commission on the nine person committee.
Recreation and Parks Chair Phil Brock and former Planning Commissioner Frank Gruber were also nominated to represent their respective commissions on the board.
But it will be no easy task. The landmarked building, once home to the Oscars, desperately needs an extensive and expensive -- estimates start around $50 million -- overhaul. And experts have said that in order to keep the venue running, it would require a subsidy. (“To Preserve Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Revise Specific Plan, Says Expert Panel,” May 13)
With no public money to fund its repairs, the City has shut down the venue where musical giants like Bob Dylan once played until a new solution can be found.
That's why Longtime Santa Monica resident and former judge David Finkel is among the pool of 28 vying for a position in the CCWG.
Finkel said he thought of the working group's mission as “a question asking venutre in an attempt to get everybody's point of view.”
While he said that it is important to approach the Auditorium's future as an open-ended question, he did say that he does not want to see the historic venue become a private enterprise.
His wife, Bruria Finkel is also among the 28. She was unable to comment on her candidacy, since she was out of the country, but Bruria has been a long-time supporter of the arts in Santa Monica and currently sits on the Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. board of directors.
Also among the candidates are Sepp Donahower and Jodi Summers, both members the group resident-led group Save the Civic. (“Save the Civic, Say Santa Monica Residents,” April 16)
Donahower, an “event & marketing executive,” worked as a concert promoter when the Santa Monica Civic during its heyday. Summers is a realtor serving as the communications chair of the Ocean Park Association.
Carey Wayne Upton, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) director of facility use, is also up for a position in the CCWG.D'Lynn Waldron, a former member of the School District's Advisory Committee for the Visual & Performing Arts, is also among the candidates.
See a full list of candidates here.
The Council is expected to choose the CCWG at its October 22 meeting.
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