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Santa Monica City Council to Appoint Tourism Board Members

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

February 5, 2016 -- A pier official, a hotel owner and a community organizer are among six applicants vying for a City Council-appointed seat on the Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, Inc.

Jeff Klocke, a vice president at Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier, and restauranteur West Hooker, owner of Locanda del Lago and Caffe Bellagio in Santa Monica, submitted their applications earlier this month.

They join applicants Cindy Pfeiffer, a volunteer organizer at Heal the Bay, Westside Shelter and Food Coalition and other organizations, a Darlene Evans former member of the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, Klaus Billep, president of Universal Travel Systems, and Deborah Ann Hart, a site manager for Phenix Salon Suites in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica City Council members select five of the 11 members of Santa Monica Travel and Tourism's 11-member board of directors, who serve four-years terms and can serve as many as two terms. The City Council is expected to make appointments Tuesday.

Along with providing basic background information about their experience, qualifications and education, all the applicants were asked to share their goals or vision of what the nonprofit board can contribute to promoting Santa Monica as a conference, business and leisure travel destination.

Hooker, a former board member for the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau who serves on the board of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, said his vision for the tourism bureau is to “continue to successfully build and evolve the brand of Santa Monica as a superlative leisure and meeting destination, while also building awareness within the local communities of the business and cultural values it creates and fosters for both residents and workers.”

Both his restaurants are on Third Street Promenade “and are equally dependent on Santa Monica's business and leisure visitors and Santa Monica residents.”

“I understand the needs and wishes of both visitors and residents,” he said in his application.

Klocke lists more than 28 years experience in tourism, hospitality, themed entertainment, events marketing, and theme park operations. As vice president of marketing and administration at Pacific Park since December 2000, Klocke has helped “generate record-setting growth and, together with the Santa Monica Pier, home to Pacific Park, increased attendance growth to more than 8 million visitors annually,” he said.

He also has been active on the Santa Monica Police Department's Police Activity League, where Klocke served as president, and serves on the boards of the Santa Monica YMCA and the Santa Monica Red Cross.

His vision for the tourism board is to “continue to make Santa Monica a unique international destination while respecting the needs and desires of the community.”

Billep, who has owned Universal Travel Systems in Santa Monica since 1971, is a former president of the American Society of Travel Agents for Southern California and former president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

His vision for the tourism bureau is to work “in close relationship with foreign airlines flying into LAX,” his application said.

Pfeiffer said her goals include helping “spread the message that in Santa Monica the California beach experience is within reach of everyone. By working to expand outreach to not only the visitor staying in our hotels, but to those staying and living in other parts of Los Angeles we can bring that experience to many.”

Hart said she has more than 30 years experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. She has a master's degrees in business, has lived and worked in more than 15 countries and speaks four languages, she said on her application.

“But most important, I love Santa Monica,” she wrote.

Formed in 1982, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism Inc. acts as the marketing representative for local businesses and the community as a whole.

The other members of the 11-member board are appointed by the Chamber of Commerce, and one is appointed by the city manager.

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