The Staff Report released Friday, May 22nd, provides an Update on City Restructuring and Council Authorization to Restore Priority Programs in the areas below as directed by Council on May 5th, all of which we supported and many of which we specifically requested.
On the agenda for the May 5th, Santa Monica City Council meeting, devastating cuts in response to the catastrophic budget shortfalls created by the Covid-19 crisis were proposed and later approved. As we shared in previous communications, we felt (and still feel) strongly that without active and engaged Council direction these cuts will surely unwind decades of progress and community hard work toward a city where everyone can move safely, with or without a car, and where we protect our most vulnerable citizens. These are, without a doubt, unprecedented and difficult times. Difficult decisions and devastating cuts will need to be made. We must continue to demand our leaders be creative in finding solutions that maintain our city values and as many essential programs as possible as we rebuild our economy, and our community from the Covid-19 crisis.
We are grateful that on May 5th Council directed staff to consider the following areas as priorities for continuing services, funds permitting:
- Food security for our most vulnerable community members through restoring funding to Meals on Wheels and the Westside Food Bank
- Keeping people in their homes through increased support for the Preserving Our Diversity senior housing subsidy program and restoring funding to the Legal Aid Foundation
- Funding for youth-related programs, such as after-school programs and mental health support services
- Resources for outdoor health, such as playgrounds and fields, including the Playground Partnership program with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD)
- Mobility programs with an emphasis on providing safe, sustainable, affordable and accessible transportation choices
- Sustainability with an emphasis on community resilience
We need Council to stay engaged directing the priority of creative solutions. We must insist our leaders continue to be strategic and thoughtful with “restructuring” that reduces costs and bureaucracy while retaining essential capacity to build confidently on the foundation and programs that define what we love about Santa Monica — including safe bike lanes, sustainability efforts to address climate change, after school programs, community gardens, libraries, and social services for those most in need. We are pleased to see some of these essential programs have been recommended for at least partial reinstatements. Programs like these are needed to keep neighborhood streets safe and calm, and provide ways for kids, seniors, low-income families, and car-light/carless households to keep moving.
Congestion management is only possible with these programs; when stay-at-home orders are lifted the congestion will be back in weeks, with additional drivers who used to ride transit.
Even in the most difficult of times we must retain our values and prioritize these programs or we slide backward decades, putting essential outcomes out of reach:
- Safer Streets
- Climate Action & Adaptation Plan air quality and emission reduction
- LUCE congestion mitigation and neighborhood traffic calming
- Vehicle trip reduction necessary for new housing capacity
- Bike Action Plan health and active trips targets
- Pedestrian Action Plan injury and fatality reductions
This Community has worked hard to build a brighter future – a vision for an economically, environmentally, equitably and socially sustainable community.
Please join us in supporting solutions outlined in the Staff Report and ask Council to keep prioritizing creative solutions to retain more essential services and staff: HERE