Friday, May 2, 2014

BLESSING OR CURSE (EXPONENTIAL GROWTH AND THE EXPO LINE)

I believe Shakespeare once said (and, no, I wasn't there at the time), "There is only one thing constant in life and that is change." True. Particularly when talking about the city of Santa Monica.

I've been doing business in Santa Monica for 39 years, but never experienced anything like what the city is currently undertaking. I think Santa Monica is becoming the most European style city in Southern California. Small service oriented businesses like shoe stores, hardware stores, repair shops, old diners and alike are squeezed out of the area, giving room to trendy coffee shops, bistros and expensive stores. In recent years, Santa Monica has become home to a thriving tech sector known as the Silicon Beach. All these techies have a different life style. They are mobile, not ready to settle down and have a family. They want to live in an apartment or condominium, spend their free time at the beach, sip wine in a trendy restaurant, or take a walk on the busy 3rd street promenade, watching street performers showing off their skills. Once unimaginable mixed use buildings, so common in European cities, are popping up all over. Small apartment buildings are giving way to huge buildings, sometimes over a hundred units apiece. This trend is just going to continue, and quite likely intensify, with the proposed Expo Line expected to open in 2016. The Expo Line will be the only light rail mass transportation in the Los Angeles area reaching the beaches.

Who is to blame -- or praise -- for all these changes?

The unprecedented number of projects has surfaced since a major change of the city's land use plan a few years ago. The city is also in the middle of many zoning changes along the future Expo Line.

Can you imagine on a nice summer day, all the people who want to spend the day at the beach and don't have to worry about parking anymore? There are several million like them living in the greater Los Angeles area – who will flock to Santa Monica on the Expo Line. I think it'll be a zoo. It will definitely be a blessing for the local businesses and therefore for the city coffers, but I think it'll be a curse for the people, especially the older folks living in Santa Monica.

What do you think? Is it really a blessing or a curse? Or both?

Re-posted from our newsletter originally sent on 2/15/2014