“Despite the unanimous opposition of every one of the neighborhood
associations, as well as opposition from the Recreation & Parks
Commission and the Landmarks Commission, the Council chose to allow
commercial fitness trainers in Palisades Park,” says Patricia Bauer, Co
Vice-Chair of NOMA (North of Montana Association). “We’re very
disappointed. NOMA will be continuing to discuss this issue. Personally,
I’d like to see the Council reopen the conversation about the parks
ordinance and remove Palisades Park from the list of parks in which
commercial training is permitted.”
“Speaking in a general way,” she says, “there seems to be a
disconnect between the Council and the neighborhoods. This leaves many
people in the community to wonder whether the Council cares much about
what the neighborhoods and the residents have to say.”
Patricia Bauer was born in Detroit, went to the University of
Michigan at Ann Arbor, worked at the White House Press Office during the
Carter Administration, and went on to work at the Washington Post.
After she and her family moved to Santa Monica, she worked at the Los
“We came here for the schools and the fresh air, and we fell in love with the town,” Bauer says.
Bauer was pulled into local politics when the City proposed to
replace the iconic palm trees in her neighborhood, on an as needed
basis, with sycamore trees.
Bauer loves sycamores but this was not the right location – the palms
are the signature tree of her neighborhood. They were part of the
identity of the neighborhood and Patricia Bauer, as she would learn
later, was only one of many neighbors opposed to the plan.
Bauer turned to her neighborhood organization, NOMA, the North of
Montana Association, one of the seven major neighborhood organizations
in the City, but the organization was almost inactive at that time.
Support for keeping the iconic palm trees was high and the
neighborhood pulled together to save them. Their efforts were successful
and “the City reversed course and agreed to replace palms with palms on
the historic palm streets,” said Bauer. “Then we went on to work
together to revitalize NOMA.”
Now, as Co Vice-Chair of NOMA, Bauer is a leader working with NOMA to
actively oppose the commercial use of Palisades Park by fitness
trainers, whose presence in the park has grown in recent years.
In their letter to Council Members NOMA wrote:
“We are now faced with the prospect of city-authorized private
businesses using Palisades Park land for profit-making purposes that
directly contradict the original intent of our founders. If the
ordinance is enacted as currently written, private businesses will be
free to use taxpayer-supported lands as their private fiefs, interfering
with the public’s use and enjoyment of the historic lands that make up
Bauer adds all the neighborhood organizations are talking with one another on this and many other issues.
“On development, NOMA has gone on record calling for the Council to
slow down its rush to develop the city,” Bauer says. “Our residents are
happy with the size and scale of our built-out city, and are concerned
about growing traffic and congestion around town. They strongly question
whether the intense development that is contemplated now will worsen
the quality of life for everyone.
“Voters wonder: Where’s the accountability, and why did the Council
vote down a measure that would have them disclose their campaign
connections before voting? Why is it okay in Santa Monica for council
members to vote on measures that are backed by the campaign contributors
who put them in office? Why are the developers’ voices heard so much
more strongly than the voices of taxpayers, residents and voters? Whose
interests are really being served here?”
“Follow the money,” famously said the investigative journalist Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men.”
It was advice Patricia Bauer often heard him give when she was a new
reporter for the Washington Post. Now Bauer is asking that question
about the Santa Monica City Council.
“When you look at Mayor Pam O’Connor’s campaign contributions, as
publicly reported, both before and after the recent elections her
campaign was heavily financed by developers,” Bauer said. “Ms. O’Connor
had campaign debt from her 2006 election. In March of 2008 people
associated with one developer paid it off. That developer is Hines, the
company behind a massive project that is currently proposed for the
Bergamot property. People have begun to wonder about the Mayor’s close
relationship with that developer.
“It’s interesting to note that something similar also happened in
March of 2005, following Ms. O’Connor’s election to Council. Her
campaign debt then was also paid off by people associated with a
developer who had a pending development proposal in the city: Macerich.”
“I have a sense, and am hearing all over town, that others share my
sense, that people feel the Council is ignoring the wishes of the
residents. Anger is building. People are feeling ignored. When voters
get angry, they speak with their votes.”
So says Patricia Bauer of NOMA.
What Say You?
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