As we go crazy in response to the latest Trump provocation, the latest being his saying he won’t leave the White House if he’s not declared the winner immediately, or we go just as crazy in response to the latest article or column (even from David Brooks!), telling us to be prepared to hit the barricades if Trump won’t give up, it’s important to remember that the shape of this election, as described in poll after poll, has been stable since Joe Biden declared his candidacy 18 months ago.
Then, as the other Democratic candidates were arguing over details of their policy proposals, Biden entered the race and correctly diagnosed what the election was about, namely, in his words, “the soul of America.” Thankfully, Rep. Jim Clyburn and the Black voters of South Carolina rescued the country. Can you imagine if now, after all that’s happened this year, we were running against Trump on anything other than his manifest unfitness to be president?
Biden began his campaign polling about six points ahead of Trump, and that’s where he is today. The polls have been preternaturally stable, through one event after another. Let’s hope that leads holds (or increases!) for another month, because to be safe in the Electoral College, Biden needs a national margin of four or five points.
As is often discussed, the national polls in 2016 were largely correct, but state polling in the industrial heartland was off because the views of non-college-educated voters were undercounted. Trump, in basing his 2020 campaign solely on motivating his base, is counting on the same phenomenon. I assume this is why Biden is now pushing the Scranton vs. Park Avenue argument. Good for him, attack Trump where he’s strong. Let’s pray, however, he doesn’t forget that his path to victory will be paved with the votes of women, particularly Black women.
Trump tries to make the election about “Sleepy Joe” – with crazy insults and everything else his meme-machine can generate (which the media always amplifies) – but Trump has not succeeded. Every few days there’s a new revelation about Trump, or there’s a new outrage from him, that turns the spotlight back on him. Trump loves the attention, but now it is illuminating just how much he doesn’t care about the American people.
• • •
Back to local news and an oldie and now a goodie: namely the redevelopment of the Miramar Hotel. After the project’s approval a few weeks ago by the Planning Commission, City Council will consider it at the council’s meeting Tuesday night.
The Miramar is a project that’s been in development for a decade, and I’ve written about it many times. (Search on “Miramar” in my blog, and you’ll see.) I most recently wrote about it two years ago, when the hotel released the third major iteration of the plan. As I wrote then, after two false starts, the third plan, developed with a new set of (much better) architects and by a new development team, was good. In two years since then of environmental analysis and other inputs, it’s become better. Third time’s the charm.
The Miramar along with the Paper Mate project were the focal points of the revival of no-growth politics after the City adopted the Land Use and Circulation Elements of the general plan in 2010. Looking back, the level of hysteria about the plan then seems incredible, when you actually look at what’s being proposed. True, the hysteria was inflamed by the well-funded opposition of the neighboring Huntley Hotel; but since the Huntley was found to be at the center of political finance shenanigans by the California Fair Political Practices Commission and fined $310,000, the hotel’s opposition has been muted, or at least under the radar. It also didn’t help to create a calm atmosphere to evaluate the merits of the proposal when the hotel got into a spat with then rising political star Sue Himmelrich, who based her winning campaign in 2014 to a great extent on her opposition to the project.
The opponents, and this continues today with various mindless opposition pieces, argue that somehow the project is “monstrous.” But it is, when you get down to what is actually proposed, modest. There’s (i) replacement of the hotel (the room count stays about the same, increasing from 301 to 312, certainly not a mega, Vegas-type hotel), (ii) replacement of an old tallish building with a some new tallish (but not taller than nearby buildings) buildings, and (iii) the addition of 102 housing units – 60 fancy condominiums on the hotel site and 42 affordable units on land across from the hotel on Second Street that the hotel will donate to Community Corp. of Santa Monica (the Miramar will also pay the costs of building the affordable housing). (The original plan was somewhat bigger, calling for 132 units, of which only 12 would be affordable, but even adding 132 units to downtown Santa Monica would not have been noticeable in terms of any impacts. There are, after all, about 50,000 housing units in the city.)
Meanwhile, a rundown hotel that’s a key part of the downtown economy gets rebuilt for another century (creating quite significant amounts of tax revenues for the city and the school district out of thin air), the site gets opened up to the public, two historic assets (the big fig tree and one of the old buildings) get preserved, and the economy gets a big boost. The architecture is good, too.
This is the kind of change that cities are supposed to experience.
So, what’s the problem? There is no problem other than panic on the part of Santa Monicans Fearful of Change (SMFCs), and a new group I’ve come to identify as Santa Monicans Resentful of Someone Else Making Money (SMRSEMMs). It always kills me to hear anti-capitalist greed rhetoric coming from Santa Monicans who live in houses worth millions north of Montana or, in this case, live in the high-rise building on California that overlooks the Miramar.
Oh, all right, I’ll admit it: the SMRSEMMs don’t actually resent people making money. It’s just that the rhetoric works for SMFCs in a good, leftie town like Santa Monica.
Usually in Santa Monica the SMRSEMMs avoid the anti-Semitic imagery historically associated with anti-greed screeds, but it looks like people opposing the Miramar project couldn’t help themselves. Over the weekend in the Santa Monica Daily Press someone paid to insert a flyer (shame on the Daily Press for accepting it) making wild claims about the project (it will ruin Santa Monica!) that included this image of Michael Dell, the owner of the Miramar who happens to be Jewish:
Here’s what Dell looks like in real life:
Thanks for reading. (And l’shana tova to my co-religionists. Have an easy fast if that’s what you do.)