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New Chamber Chair Steps Aside to Pave Way for Santa Monica Resident

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By Jorge Casuso

July 22, 2020 -- Land use attorney Dave Rand will no longer chair the Chamber of Commerce board, paving the way for a Santa Monica resident to take the helm during the city's economic recovery.

Rand -- a resident of Agoura Hills who assumed the post in May -- will be replaced as chair by Becky Warren, a Santa Monica resident who runs an influential public affairs firm.

"I have decided to forego the chairmanship," Rand told the Lookout. "I thought it would be better for the new head of the chamber to be a resident."

In addition, Rand said he worried his professional work representing developers could draw attention away from the chamber's efforts to help Santa Monica businesses recover from the economic blow dealt by the ongoing coronavirus emergency.

"That's the last thing I wanted now that there's an economic recovery," said Rand, who is a partner at Armbruster Goldsmith and Delvac LLP.

The firm represents Clarett West, the developer proposing The Plaza project on City owned land Downtown, which is opposed by a coalition of neighborhood and slow-growth groups.

On Tuesday, the Council will vote on whether to resume negotiations with the developer after opponents submitted legal arguments last month to stop the project ("Council to Decide Fate of 'The Plaza' Project," June 22, 2020).

Laurel Rosen, the Chamber's President and CEO, said being a resident is not a requirement for serving on the group's board.

"We are a private business organization not a city board or commission and our members do not need to live here to be a members, but do business in Santa Monica," Rosen said.

But she added that the Chamber believed the time was right for a Santa Monica resident to head the board.

"We thought based on what has been going on lately it would be a good idea to have a resident chair, and board member Becky Warren was happy to step up," Rosen said.

Warren is a founder of Elevate Public Affairs, where she "heads up the strategic communications practice, which includes media relations, public affairs, and crisis and litigation communication," according to the firm's website.

According to her bio, Warren "provides communications counsel to several Fortune 100 companies, including some of the most disruptive and talked-about technology companies in the world."

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