December 2, 2020 9:15 AM
by Kevin McKeown
Being your Mayor, the Mayor of Santa Monica, is always a great honor. My time chairing your City Council is about to come to an end, though, and I have to admit it was not the year I expected when I gave our State of the City address back in February.
2020 has been a year of pandemic, economic collapse, disappointment, frustration, and pain. We were forced to cut our city workforce by almost a quarter, meaning reduced services for our residents.
Before I go any further, I want to end my year as Mayor by thanking and saluting those loyal remaining city workers who’ve picked up the slack, in transit, public safety, trash pickup, parks maintenance, finance, administration, and so many other services that keep our city running.
My real job as Santa Monica Mayor has been to bring forth the best of the City Councilmembers with whom I’ve served, helping us set and achieve consensus goals for this city we love.
To my colleagues on the Council, then: We’ve had a tough year. But we successfully supported our community through the COVID crisis so far, an overwhelming task imposed upon us, which forced a wrenching re-evaluation of priorities and resources.
And yet we delivered real progress on many fronts. We protected renters by taking strong action against corporate leasing, to stop the commercialization of our residential housing. We implemented the full $15 minimum wage, and enacted worker safeguards, including “panic buttons” for hotel housekeepers subject to sexual harassment as they cleaned our visitors’ rooms.
We balanced a budget, despite initial estimates of $224 million in revenue deficits over the next two years. We began pension paydown and expanded rent subsidies for even more seniors in our Preserve Our Diversity program.
We finished a sustainable City Hall East office building, which will serve residents and save money once the pandemic passes, and a brand-new downtown fire station.
We approved 18 miles of new, safer, fully protected bike lanes. We convened community members to begin drafting a Black Agenda and created a new Police Engagement and Accountability Commission to advise on public safety reform.
When coronavirus vaccines arrive next year, and the economy resurges, we will have set the stage for reinventing Santa Monica.
I thank you for the opportunity to have been your Mayor.
If there’s a next time, can I have an easier year? Please?