This page is “Santa Monica 101.” You’ll find here all the basics you need to know living in the famous city by the sea.
Moving to a new city, even one as amazing as Santa Monica, can be stressful and confusing. So we thought we’d help you out with some of the more important information you need to make your transition to your new home as easy as possible. Here are the basics.
Just imagine yourself as a character in the reality-TV version of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. At least, that’s what we like to do.
It is no secret to anyone who has considered moving to Santa Monica that finding a place to live here is not cheap. A person in 2013 looking to rent in Santa Monica – and about 70 percent of the 90,000 people who live in the seaside city are renters – could have expected to pay on average about $2,300 a month. Why is the rent so damn high?
Under Santa Monica’s rent control law, Charles and Carol Gasko enjoyed a fixed rent of $1,145 a month. For 15 years, they lived in their apartment in the well-heeled Wilmont neighborhood, walking distance from Santa Monica’s bustling Downtown and the Palisades Bluffs. That is, until they were arrested by FBI agents in June 2011. Charles and Carol Gasko were actually the aliases of notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and his companion Catherine Greig.
In the face of skyrocketing rents, Santa Monica has struggled to maintain its commitment to economic diversity among its residents. New construction or market-rate rental units in the city’s 8.3 square miles is not likely to ever be enough to satiate the demand for housing enough to stabilize rents.
People living in Santa Monica enjoy quite a lot of amenities for a city its size. Santa Monica, home to about 90,000 people, has its own police force and fire department. Within its eight square miles, Santa Monica has five libraries, 26 parks (including a skate park and a public beach house), an urban runoff treatment plant, a vast network of nonprofits that serves some of the city’s most vulnerable people, and some of the best public schools in the county. The City also operates its own bus system, water treatment plant, and TV station.
How much housing ought to get built in the next 20 years? How can we make it affordable? How much job growth should the city plan for? How can we design streets to safely accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians and cars? Where should our next park be built? These questions – and many more – are the kind that local governments the world over must answer on a regular basis, planning the future of their citizens in very concrete ways.
Election season is in full swing in Santa Monica and it promises to be an exciting one. But, like in most places around the country, Santa Monica’s younger residents are dramatically underrepresented at community meetings and at the ballot box, at least when it comes to local elections.