Our businesses must thrive!Our objective is to bring balance and scale back to Santa Monica’s business community and, by extension, our resident community. Creating a robust and diverse commercial environment scaled to the city diversifies revenue risk and creates the heightened sense of belonging and identity that are essential elements to a vibrant and healthy city for new arrivals, families and long-term residents.
A. The Problems
City policy and public statements are the key driver of the issues negatively impacting our small and medium sized businesses. Those policies have created an extremely stressed small businesses environment resulting in unprecedented closures from both the heart of our downtown commercial district and our outlying neighborhoods. The Policy issues can be summarized as follows:
2. Public discussion of potentially future conversion of all commercial zoning to mixed use has sent confusing signals to property owners about what long term financial strategies to adopt, likely reducing commitment to the existing lease structure if additional financial benefits can be obtained from conversions/redevelopment
3. Mis-interpretation of business trends (perhaps partially deliberate) as being entirely and inexorably driven by the move to online retail and not attributing any cause to city policies and statements.
5. Excessive financial and cash flow burdens placed on entrepreneurs and business owners that include excessive permit fees, opening delays that strain cash flows while rent is still required and requirements to pay estimated sales tax 60 days in advance of any actual sales.
B. The Solutions
My policy prescriptions comprehensively address the issues prevalent throughout the entire SM business ecosystem:
1. Clear and consistent messaging that development in Santa Monica will be right-sized to the scale of the city with a resident-first emphasis.
2. Clarifying exactly which areas, if any, would be subject to zoning changes, and in what time scale.
3. Fact-based assessment, including first-hand business owner and landlord discussions, of actual business trend drivers of commercial challenges in every area of the city to determine the optimum City policy response. Response requires a clear delinking of the housing agenda from the commercial business issues to ensure the right policy development for each specific issue.
4. Completely overhaul the City’s approach to small and medium-sized business support, focusing on streamlined one-stop entrepreneur support. Restructure existing resources and staffing to provide project management service and support while eliminating functional and process duplications. Key points of the plan include: