Santa Monica’s Year In Review for 2021

March 2, 2022 10:47 AM
by David White

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and the City of Santa Monica hosted the annual State of the City on February 15, 2022.  In this two-part blog series, we share excerpts from City Manager David White’s address, which can be viewed on YouTube. First, we look back at 2021 before exploring what lies ahead.

As your City Manager, I had the opportunity to speak at Santa Monica’s annual State of the City in February and while the event’s theme focused on Envisioning Our Future, I took an initial step back to acknowledge the foundation from which Santa Monica’s future will be built.

Financial Forecast and Services Post Restructuring

Our financial position is an important factor in the state of our city. Santa Monica is in the initial phase of economic recovery, but we still have a lot of uncertainty ahead of us.

In 2019, the City projected a loss of revenues in our General Fund of about $220 million over three years. Due to sound financial planning and tough decisions on restructuring our services, our Finance Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes recently provided our Council with an updated financial forecast that reflects our revenue loss to be closer to $188 million.  This is still devastating, but it is nice to see improvement.

Sales tax, parking revenue, hotel bed taxes, and documentary transfer taxes are projected to perform better than anticipated and FY 2021 – 2022 General Fund revenues are projected to be $30.7 million higher than budgeted. However, many of our revenues continue to underperform in comparison to the levels attained before the pandemic.  This has had very real impacts on how we can deliver services.

We are slowly, strategically, and thoughtfully restoring services as funding becomes available.

Emergency Operations Center: COVID-19 Pandemic

As we approach the third year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Santa Monica remains committed to keeping our community and city staff safe and our Emergency Operations Center continues to lead our emergency response efforts.

This includes providing access to local vaccine resources. Our emergency operations center hosted 10 public COVID-19 vaccination clinics, helping contribute to over 72,800 Santa Monica residents and almost 1,800 City staff receiving their COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. As cases increased with the Delta and Omicron variants, the team identified the community’s need for access to COVID-19 testing and launched the Clover Park testing site in partnership with the County. They also continued to adapt City operations to protect staff and the public by distributing personal protective equipment to help minimize COVID-19 transmission. The City issued 10 emergency orders in 2021 and regularly communicated LA County and City changes to residents and businesses via local media, emergency alerts, community newsletters and social media.

Maintaining a Clean and Safe Santa Monica

The restructuring of our city services had a noticeable impact on our ability to provide cleaning services in our public spaces.  I know how important a clean Santa Monica is to our community and I share your conviction. The dedicated team in our Public Works Department have reported to work each day and continue to do their all to deliver on this important priority. During the restructure, we took hits in areas like graffiti removal, paint maintenance, custodial, and our trade shops. While this impacted service delivery response times, our crews have been working tirelessly to maintain our beaches, parks, and public facilities. I’m so pleased to have named Rick Valte to be our public works director and I am confident his leadership will provide the support this team needs to continue to keep our community clean.

Addressing Homelessness

Homelessness and the impact of homelessness is one of the biggest issues facing our nation and our city. Santa Monica continues to work with LA County partners, and to invest in programs that offer services to those in need. In 2021, the three City-funded multidisciplinary outreach teams made more than 11,000 contacts with people experiencing homelessness and provided direct medical or psychiatric services to 808 participants. Last year, these teams placed 57 people into interim housing and 24 individuals into permanent housing. In December alone, the multidisciplinary teams made 990 contacts, providing direct medical or psychiatric care to 55 vulnerable individuals on our streets, in our parks and on our beach. Additionally:

Equitable and Inclusive Economic Recovery

The pandemic has impacted our businesses, our households, and our local economy. As I mentioned earlier, I am excited to see that we are beginning to see signs of stabilization and recovery and there is much that we have done to support the recovery that is taking hold, including:


We have a lot of work to address our housing crisis.  Many of our friends and neighbors are priced out of living in our city, and for many that work in Santa Monica, living here is only a dream.

There are many existing housing projects and programs the City is committed to driving forward including the support our Rent Control department provides to residents. Last year alone, this team had approximately 11,000 constituent interactions by phone, email, and in-person. Other highlights include:

Community-Facing Services

Santa Monica has always been a place with a high quality of life, which is attributable to our exceptional service delivery. The City provides important services that our residents rely on every day. In 2021:


Investing in our infrastructure and public spaces remains a key element to serving the community and ensuring a safe, clean, and sustainable Santa Monica for years to come. With the leadership of our Public Works Department, the City made huge leaps toward completing major projects.

Environmental Action

Santa Monica has taken great pride in our commitment to protecting the natural environment. Santa Monica is advancing a bold agenda that will help us achieve water self-sufficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, and preserve and enhance our environment. This work includes:

Moving Around Town

With the merger of Big Blue Bus and Mobility team, the Santa Monica Department of Transportation emerged.  The department's achievements include:

Investment in Communications and Engagement

We continue to double down on customer service improvements throughout the pandemic period to offer digital-first options, stronger direct communication, and easier ways to find information. Examples include:

To view the full 2022 State of the City program, visit Santa Monica’s YouTube channel.

And read on as we look at what lies ahead in the second part of this blog series.

Authored By

David White
City Manager


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