The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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The Un-Living Wage

Dear Editor,

Why is it that people who do not own and operate a successful business (with
employees and the ensuing administrative costs, responsibilities in human
relations, and financial obligation to make sure their employees are paid
every two weeks) are making decisions about how much money another business
should pay their workers? Every single time that the government uses force
to control the economic dealings between private individuals, it manages to
harm those people it is meant to protect.

Neither the Santa Monica City Councilmembers nor the misguided proponents of
the living wage have a staff of employees they are individually responsible
for, nor have they ever. In fact, many of them do not even have a
wage-paying job. Most live in rent-controlled apartments, or have recently
purchased homes off the back of their owner subsidized rents after living in
rent controlled-apartments for the last 20 years. In this artificial
environment, how can they possibly understand the complex realities of
business and the economy?

When they attack and persecute a business owner, they have absolutely no
idea how many years that person worked long hours (some started by
washing dishes themselves) in order to open a business and provide jobs for
the people who assist in its operation. They don't know how many times that
person has tried and failed, until he or she arrived at the right business
formula, nor do they care. If they were honorable and truly interested in
paying more than a competitive market rate, they would start their own
individual business, where they could pay their unskilled starting employees
any amount they would like.

Former mayor and rent control proponent Dennis Zane makes inane vague
statements like: "Many of the workers work for wages so low they need public
support.... that should be your mission - justice as well as prosperity" in
order to promote this failed socialist ideology. His idea of justice is to
use government force (another form of so-called public support) to encroach
into the lives of private individuals without any understanding or
consideration of the repercussions and damage it causes -- how it prevents
others from risking their life savings to start a job-providing business in
Santa Monica and how it forces existing businesses to place higher-skilled
people at lower-level positions.

Well my naïve leaders, your actions define the true meaning of "drunk with
power," for you have now grabbed the tiger by his tail. You are not
tampering with a group of small rental property owners who you can knock
around like newborn kittens; you are messing with a large industry, the
tourist industry, the second largest industry in the world. Maybe the next
time a local municipality relinquishes power to those who would attack an
honest and productive segment of society, the way Santa Monica has punished
housing providers for the last 20 years, the rest of the financial community
will rally to their defense; for like a weed, it will spread.

S. Forest King
Santa Monica

The Planning Commission Vote

Dear Editor,

Concerning your item on last week's Planning Commission hearing on 1309 PCH: Zoning ordinances are established reflecting the public's consensus on an
appropriate balance between neighborhood amenities and private rights.

This neighborhood along PCH is particularly sensitive because of the very
tall houses that have been replacing the small bungalows next to our public
beach. The zoning ordinance in effect here since the early 1990s specified
only a single unit per lot and a twenty-foot front setback. Nine houses have
been built in the immediate area--including two next-door--that conform to
this standard.

The subject property had been granted a special privilege -- this
variance -- based on it being a remodel of the existing bungalows on the site.
This came with a clear and reasonable requirement that it really be a
remodel: at least 50% of the existing walls had to remain.

But the walls clearly weren't even in their original locations, despite
assertions to the contrary (not to mention that the original foundations and
floors were entirely gone). This was no longer a "remodel" and appropriately
it should conform to the same zoning that its neighbors have.

If you've watched the north-of-Montana R1 zoning process over the last year,
you've heard the same things. An occasional property owner claims they
"can't build their dream house for their family" within the zoning rules that
most of their neighbors have requested and don't have a problem conforming to.

Darrell Clarke
Planning Commissioner
City of Santa Monica

Dear Editor,

You really missed the boat on he 1309 PCH story . You should have seen the
photos and read the staff report or watched the Planning Commission meeting.
The facts in the case supporting revocation of the variance at 1309 PCH were

The REAL question and story is why would Commissioner Kanny, who is an
attorney, advocate such a violation of due process and why would Commissioner Parlee, an architect who knows the process, advocate such a move?

Imagine how many Santa Monica laws and violations of the Brown Act would
have been broken if the Planning Commission had followed Commissioners
Parlee's and Kanny's request to give a variance to a project that was not in
front of the Commission, that no application had been applied for, that no
plans had been prepared for, that had not been noticed by the legally
required postings on the site, that no legally required mailing to neighbors
had been done, that no legally required hearing had taken place in front of
the Zoning Administrator, that no legally required opportunity of an Appeal
of the variance by neighbors or other interested parties had taken place,
...the list goes on and on.

I find it ironic that Commissioner Parlee called his fellow Commissioners
who supported the variance revocation "Marxists Nimbys" (which sounds like one heck of an oxymoron to me), when in reality the Commission was upholding the legally required "Democratic" process as outlined by the due process laws of
the City.

While I acknowledge the right of Commissioner Parlee to call myself and
other Commissioners names, I am confident that the rest of the Commission will
continue to deliberate the important decisions that face our Community with
reasonable and respectful discourse.

Kelly Olsen
Planning Commission
City of Santa Monica

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