Appointments to Downtown Board Critical

June 24, 2022

Dear Editor,

Three new Council-appointed DTSM Board members will be selected at the June 28 City Council meeting. The city needs a completely new DTSM Board laser focused on restoration and growth of the desperately needed downtown destination retail sector.

City policymaking is overwhelmingly skewed to increasing municipal costs. The ongoing devastation that is Downtown and the Promenade represent one of the few large revenue-generating opportunities left in the city.

The city absolutely cannot afford to forgo the multiple tens of millions in lost annual general fund tax revenues that this continuing devastation creates.

The Council needs to vote the following stakeholder applicants onto the DTSM Board:

  • Leonid (Leo) Pustilnikov – AMC on the Promenade
  • Luke M. Cain – Brittania Pub on 4th
  • Lucian Tudor – 1212 Restaurant on the Promenade

Why will these appointments be critical? With the pandemic behind us, we have all been able to survey the devastated unrecovered state of Downtown.

The reality is that our iconic, and core bedrock city economic engines, our downtown, remains devastated and dysfunctional. The Promenade has over 60 percent vacancies with space being given away just to provide the impression of activity. There is no plan to fix it.

The existing DTSM Board has only ongoing failure to its credit. A partial list includes:

1. Development and promotion of a costly and completely irrelevant “Promenade 3.0” revitalization plan that has nothing to do with fixing the core business environment issues and provides absolutely no integrated or relevant strategy to revitalize the area.

2. The current Board does not even know what a real business plan looks like, let alone what questions it must answer.

3. Publicly discussing property uses without any consultation with their owners.

4. Not advocating to save Parking Garage 3.

5. Completely absent leadership with the city on something as fundamental to a walkable space as outdoor dinning, leaving it in limbo and creating yet more lost revenues.

6. No street curation that in any way approaches even a portion of the potential of the area.

Meanwhile, the City continues to issue “happy talk” bulletins citing “upticks” in business trends of one sort or another. But, buried deep in the text, the City notes that “while Santa Monica is seeing positive signs for our local economy, it is important to put these trends in perspective as Santa Monica is in the initial phase of our economic recovery and the overall economy is not at pre-pandemic levels.”

Why are new sources of revenue desperately needed? Despite general fund revenues being projected to be within 3 percent of their pre-pandemic peak next year, the latest budget “Study Session” discussed the inability to open parks to non-paying residents, the need to skip maintenance and new parcel taxes to fund the partially closed library system.

In short, costs are outstripping revenues. And all the proposed development the city projects will further burden ongoing municipal funding requirements.

There is absolutely no reason that the Council cannot effect this immediate and critical change. Failure to do so indicates much deeper problems at the Council level.

Marc L. Verville
Sunset Park
Santa Monica

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