Can Santa Monica Residents Represent the City of Santa Monica on the Downtown Board?

Image: Cayambe/Wikimedia

The 501(c)3 non-profit public benefit corporation now known as Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. was founded in 1984 by then Santa Monica City Manager John Alschuler.  The city still performs oversight functions as required by state law.

The organization’s funding comes from multiple sources about 55% from property assessments, 15% from business license tax, 20% from city contracts. 10% from revenues earned from events like ice skating and corporate “pop ups” on the Third Street Promenade. Property owners are responsible for the majority of the organization’s revenue.  Sometimes property owners will pass their assessments onto their tenant.  But few Promenade property owners have tenants these days.

The organization is governed by a 13-member board of directors: 6 members elected by the property owners, 6 council-appointed members, and the city manager or their designee.  

A group of property owners who have sought greater influence in the affairs of the organization formed the Santa Monica Bayside Owners’ Association. The group has argued that Santa Monica residents are not downtown stakeholders because they haven’t invested their money in the downtown, a view supported by Councilmember Phil Brock.  This group unsuccessfully sued to oppose the demolition of downtown Parking Structure 3 to develop permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals. Vice produced an excellent report on the battle surrounding the closure of parking structure 3.

Downtown Santa Monica guide sign with LGBTQ+ messaging for Price
Are Santa Monica residents welcome in governing Downtown Santa Monica?

New appointments.

On June 28, 2022, the Santa Monica City Council appointed Leo Pustilnikov, Lucian Tudor, and Luke Cain. These individuals were supported by the Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association and Marc Verville, a member of the Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow group that regularly publishes columns in the Santa Monica Mirror (one of which celebrates the appointments). Marc Verville has made multiple contributions to GOP candidates, including $500 to Donald Trump.

Leo Pustilnikov is a real estate developer and landlord. Last month, he proposed to use new state laws to develop 2,200 units of much needed housing on a 49-acre coastal site in Redondo Beach that the mayor wishes to turn into a park.  His firm owns the AMC theater building at Arizona and Third Street Promenade  Leo does not live in Santa Monica.

Lucian Tudor is the CEO of Global Dining Inc. of California, which operates 1212 Santa Monica on the Third Street Promenade. Lucian does not live in Santa Monica.

Luke Cain’s parents own the Britannia Pub on Santa Monica, Blvd. near the Third Street Promenade. He lives in Santa Monica

Leo Pustilnikov and Lucian Tudor’s company each made campaign donations to Lana Negrete’s Committee in the week prior to the appointment. Councilmember Negrete supported the nomination, along with the rest of the Change Slate.  

This is part 1 of a series on Downtown Santa Monica.  Part 2 will look at public safety and security services.

Juan Matute was a board member of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. from 2014 to 2022.

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