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Santa Monica College Symposium Focuses on Pico Neighborhood

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Lookout Staff

April 25. 2019 -- With rental prices soaring, Santa Monica's Pico Neighborhood is rapidly changes, a topic that will be explored during a symposium at Santa Monica College (SMC) next month.

Presented by the college's Public Policy Institute (PPI), the 2019 Spring Symposium explores how "policy approaches prevent displacement in neighborhoods affected by gentrification,” organizers said.

The symposium -- titled “There Goes the Neighborhood Part II" -- features screenings of documentaries, panel discussions and “immersive experiences” that place Santa Monica's poorest and most diverse neighborhood in a wider context.

SMC Spring Symposium flyer

The presentations "delve into the intended and unintended consequences of housing laws and policies, and how they affect housing availability and community preservation," organizers said.

All symposium events are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-arrival basis.

“Housing is one of the most critical urban planning challenges facing our communities,” said PPI co-director and SMC political science professor Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

“Our Spring Symposium continues our Fall Arts & Cultural Affairs Forum theme of examining how public policies and laws around housing shape neighborhoods, determine access and affordability, and influence culture and traditions.”

The symposium kicks off Saturday, May 4, at 10 a.m. with a walking tour of the Pico Neighborhood led by officials from the City's Pico Wellbeing Project.

The tour, which begins at Virginia Avenue Park, explores "how zoning laws and policies shape the businesses, residences, culture and character of Pico Boulevard."

On Wednesday, May 8, at noon representatives from the Westside Family Health Center, the Women’s Movement (WAM) and the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles will discuss “Women and Alzheimer’s” during a luncheon presentation.

Speakers will discuss "issues facing older residents who may be experiencing displacement from their longtime homes, adding to their health challenges," organizers said.

The presentation at Thelma Terry Community Room at Virginia Park includes a free lunch.

The symposium continues Wednesday evening with a Film Screening of "City Rising: Gentrification and Displacement" at 6:30 p.m. at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue.

The KCET documentary "explores the history of the discriminatory housing laws in California that created segregated communities, which are now fighting the gentrification that threatens their cultures and risks increasing housing insecurity and homelessness."

A panel discussion and Q&A that places the issue "in the context of local communities" follows the screening and includes community leader Irma Carranza, Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole and Inglewood School Board member D’Artagnan Scorza.

On Thursday, May 9, at 11 a.m., longtime Pico Neighborhood residents Jaime Cruz and Robbie Jones lead a walking discussion "to explore the history, culture, and diversity" of the area and "the impact that development and changing policies are having."

The walk starts at the North Fountain in the Quad of SMC's Main Campus at 1900 Pico Boulevard.

Following the walk, City Councilmember Ana Jara, who lives in the neighborhood, will make brief remarks, and a light lunch featuring neighborhood specialties will be served in the Thelma Terry Community Room.

The symposium concludes Thursday, May 9 at 5:30 p.m. with a keynote panel composed of legislative leaders and a reception at The Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th Street.

Titled "Where Goes the Road to Solving California’s Housing Crisis?," the panel discussion features California Senator Ben Allen from Santa Monica, Senator Scott Weiner from San Francisco and Mayor Gleam Davis.

The panel will examine "how legislators can navigate balancing the competing interests in tackling California’s housing crisis," organiers said.

The SMC Public Policy Institute "provides nonpartisan community programs exploring key economic, social, and political issues, along with informative discussions on the policy issues that affect daily life," officials said.

More information about the symposium is available at or by calling 310-434-3541.

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