Why DTSM is Failing

Downtown Santa Monica Inc is Failing and Needs a New Charter and Leadership


January 27, 2022

John Alle

Santa Monica Property and Business Owner

For the first time in over a quarter century, the organization designated to manage Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade and Downtown, will have a new Director.

What began as a volunteer business owner organization, and later became one of the first "business improvement districts" funded by property owners, has since become a bloated quasi-City agency.

The business owners on the Promenade pay a higher percentage of assessments than other members of DTSM, yet the City selects a majority of its 13 voting Members, and the Promenade's business owners are left under-represented.

The Promenade's business owners now have less of a voice than anytime during its history.

DTSM spends over half its annual budget on high salaries, pensions, contributions to employee life insurance premiums, travel and dining junkets, costly $300,000 studies, and a 3-tiered "Ambassador Program" that is not working.

In addition to an organization with poor representation of actual stakeholders, a bloated budget, and ineffective management, there is a deep issue of conflict of interest.

The same rules that apply to appointees of City commissions should apply to DTSM Board Members. No DTSM Board Member should simultaneously occupy a seat on any other City commission. This is not currently the case.

No DTSM Board Member should solicit work from the City or any related agency for any project that benefits them, their companies and/or colleagues.

A Board Member should not place himself or herself in the position of potential influence, financial gain or conflict of interest.

a) Current Board Chair Barry Snell does not own or operate any business in Santa Monica, but still incorrectly refers to himself as a "DTSM Stakeholder". He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Santa Monica College and the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board.

b) Prior Board Chair and current Board Member, Rob Rader, also serves on the Board of Trustees for Santa Monica College.

c) Board Member Tara Barauskas is Executive Director of Community Housing Corp., and submitted proposals for the proposed low cost hosing and homeless development that would replace Parking Garage 3. She also voted in favor of demolishing the same Garage to make way for proposed housing she is lobbying for her firm to manage.

d) Board Member Johannes Van Tilburg is aggressively competing for his team's housing project to replace Parking Garage 3 so his firm can secure the architectural and design jobs.

These are only a few examples of ongoing conflicts of interest within DTSM

We continue to see some of our prominent retailers giving up on Santa Monica, but expanding elsewhere in LA, because they do not like the current neglect of the Promenade and Downtown Santa Monica. They watch glass storefronts smashed on a regular basis, persons living in the Garage stairwells and dumpster rooms, and damaging the elevators at night. Their customers are uncomfortable and intimidated by the anti-social behavior of the homeless on the Promenade and on the storefronts of their businesses.

Together we must work on the goal of taking meaningful steps so that the 3rd Street Promenade and surrounding Downtown once again become the most desirable, safe and clean destinations for Santa Monica residents and visitors. .

John Alle

Business and Property Owner / City Supporter

Views expressed here are the opinions of the writer, and may not necessarily reflect the views of individual SMBOA (Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association) or DTSM members


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