Letter to Santa Monica City Council from the Recreation and Parks Commission
September 28, 2023
Mayor and City Council Members City of Santa Monica 1685 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Re: The Civic Auditorium
Dear Mayor Davis and City Council members:
Pursuant to the directive outlined in Article X, Section 1014 of the City Charter (Recreation and Parks Commission. Powers and duties.) with respect to all matters pertaining to public recreation, including playgrounds, music and entertainment, our Commission voted unanimously on September 19, 2023 in support of the City retaining ownership of the Civic Auditorium and to advise and notify you as follows:
We emphasize that the Commission is against the City selling the Auditorium to any third party, including to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), for any purpose.
We highlight the significant input provided by the community over several decades in the Civic Center Specific Plan (CCSP), which is the governing planning document for the Civic Center area. The Auditorium is the centerpiece of the CCSP and historically has been the community's most significant venue for civic and public life. We also call your attention to the many hours of community input that informed the Civic Working Group (CWG) process in 2014-2015, which is reflected in the CWG Report dated November 2015, presented to Council in February 2016.
The then-Chair of the Recreation and Parks Commission was among the nine members appointed by Council to the CWG, along with appointees from the Arts, Planning, and Landmarks Commissions. Over 1,700 individuals, most of whom resided or worked in the City at that time, provided input during the CWG process and per the CWG Report (page 20) "[t]he overwhelming public response...reflected a desire to maintain the Civic for performing arts and cultural uses".
Further, the Commission recognizes recent public sentiments expressed at Council, School Board, and other public community meetings in strong support of maintaining the Auditorium exclusively as a civic asset in perpetuity. Accordingly, we advise Council to end negotiations with SMMUSD under the Surplus Land Act as soon as legally possible and suggest this process move forward quickly enough to preserve the possibility of a reopening in conjunction with the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
The Recreation and Parks Commission looks forward to working with City Council, Staff and the community to revitalize the Auditorium as a civic, cultural, and performance venue.
Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commission Maryanne LaGuardia, Chair Andrew Gomez, Vice Chair Lori Brown John Cyrus Smith Arati Desai Wagabaza Steven Johnson Ann Bowman Cc: David White, City Manager