July 18, 2023

Below is an email SMCLC sent this morning to the City Council as momentum appears to be building to sell the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium via tonight’s City Council closed session discussion.

We are adamantly opposed to secret negotiations over public land that the public owns without meaningful public discussion about its future.

If you agree, please consider sending your own email to the City Council (council@smgov.net) and the City Clerk (councilmtgitems@santamonica.gov) before NOON TODAY, referencing Council agenda items 3E and 3F, urging the City Council to discuss the fate of The Civic with the public before proceeding further with negotiations.

To: The Santa Monica City Council

From: The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (“SMCLC”)

Re: Halt Closed Negotiations to Sell or Lease The Civic and Institute a Public Process to Transparently Discuss its Future (7.18.23 City Council Closed Session Items 3E and 3F)

We are writing to urge you NOT to continue negotiations with private or public entities to sell or lease the City owned Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (or hold closed session hearings about its fate), without the public’s participation in these discussions.

Public spaces should not be sold or leased without the public’s approval. These resources belong to all of us, not just to those who happen to be holding office at the time. Public officials are stewards of public land, which imposes a high standard of transparency and accountability to the public. Holding closed session hearings to discuss the sale/lease of The Civic falls below that standard. 

The landmark-designated Santa Monica Civic Auditorium served our community from 1958 to 2013, providing concerts, forums for national speakers, arts and crafts shows and other cultural events (including The Oscars) well attended by residents and visitors. While we recognize The Civic has since fallen into disrepair, there is no similar public venue in our city, and we are bereft without it.

While state law allows some aspects of property negotiations to be conducted in secrecy, we believe that the importance of public space, especially this iconic space, necessitates an open and transparent community discussion. 

We urge the Council to open this discussion to residents. It is ours to decide.