Earlier this evening, Save the Civic, a coalition of Santa Monica residents and stakeholders opposed to the SMMUSD plan to purchase and rehabilitate the unused and in-need of repair Santa Monica Civic Center declared victory in their efforts. “School District Abandons Civic Auditorium Proposal after Growing Community Opposition” a press release blared. There was only one problem, the press release was completely inaccurate. A full copy of the release can be found at the end of this article.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District quickly sent out a somewhat baffled email that the release from Save the Civic was not correct and they were pushing forward with their plan even as they encouraged the city to examine other serious offers. “This is inaccurate information. We have asked them to retract their release,” reads the politely worded email before giving this following statement from Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton.

“While SMMUSD remains interested in purchasing and rehabilitating the Civic Auditorium, the District encourages the City to explore and exhaust other options prior to concluding negotiations between the District and the City,” Shelton writes.

But the Save the Civic release did manage to muddy the waters. The Santa Monica Daily Press’ lead article on Tuesday evening directly quoted the release stating the district had abandoned their plans before noting much later in the article that information was factually incorrect. As of press time they are continuing to update the article so it may appear different if you click on the link to visit the Daily Press.


For immediate release



Release date: October 3, 2023

In a victory for residents who want to keep and restore Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium as a world-class venue for music and the performing arts, the School District has withdrawn its proposal to acquire the historic building.

“We’re thrilled the School District realized that residents adamantly opposed its expensive plan to acquire the Civic and repurpose it for use primarily as a gym. Publicly owned spaces for music and the arts are rare and important cultural venues and should not be sold off and turned into basketball courts,” said Save the Civic Steering Committee member, Bea Nemlaha.

Save the Civic, which spearheaded opposition to the District’s plan, was founded only a few weeks ago in response to the City declaring the Civic “surplus land”. This triggered a California law enabling groups representing housing, schools or parks, to bid exclusively on the property.

“We saw no support from the community and almost none from City Council for the District’s plan. The District’s outreach confirmed that,” Nemlaha added. “Now that its proposal has been withdrawn, the final hurdle has been removed and the City can field offers from other bidders. We’re looking forward to working with entities who have experience developing and operating world-class concert venues and can restore the Civic as a premier destination for music and the arts,” said Nemlaha. “This is an exciting day for Santa Monica.”

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