Save the Civic | savethecivic | Save the Civic: a coalition to save the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

The new CIVIC WORKING GROUP gets underway!!

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On January 21, 2014, the City of Santa Monica’s new Civic Working Group will have it’s first fully attended meeting. The nine member group appointed back in October. The groups task will be to study reports, meet with experts and have exchanges with the public so that recommendations can be made to City Council on what kind of project will save the Civic Auditorium, while being financeable and supported by the public. And all that is expected to be ready by May 2015!

Agendas for this and future meeting will appear on the city’s Civic Auditorium web page. Just scroll down to find the information that is available. The January 21st agenda will appear a few days before the meeting and will focus on having the group develop specifics for their work plan.


The Civic Working Group members are:

Linda Bozung- Ms. Bozung recently retired from a 30-year law career with a specialty in land use, development and environmental analysis law.  Her professional experience includes the preparation of Specific Plans, EIRs and public-private development agreements.  Her volunteerism spans local, state and national topics and includes 10 years on the Board of Directors for the Weingart Center, Public Counsel Board of Directors, service on the Interim Regional Coastal Plan Committee for SCAG, the Citizen Advisory Committee for the California Senate local Government Committee on Planning for California’s Growth, the US EPA Advisory Committee regarding Wetlands, the Open Space Task Force of the Los Angeles CRA, and a variety of national, state and local positions with the American Bar Association’s councils and committees.  She has lived in Santa Monica for 23 years.

Fred Deni- Mr. Deni has owned and managed Back on Broadway and Back on the Beach restaurants, and a special event and catering service in Santa Monica since 1979.  Additionally, he has worked in theater and theatrical production since he was a young child.  Mr. Deni’s long history of community involvement includes serving as a founding board member of the Ruskin Group Theatre, serving on the Santa Monica College Advisory Board, and founding the PAL Fred Deni Culinary Program.  Additionally, the Santa Monica Red Cross honored him with its Humanitarian Award.  He has lived in Santa Monica for 40 years.

Philip Orosco- Mr. Orosco is the Managing Partner of Pacshore Partners, a real estate investment firm located in Santa Monica.  His work in the real estate investment industry spans 20 years and includes financing over $5 billion in real estate, developing multiple commercial and historically sensitive properties in Santa Monica and nine years as Vice President of Finance and Acquisitions at Maguire Properties.  His professional knowledge includes real estate acquisitions and operations, debt structuring and finance.  He is an active member of the Santa Monica Conservancy.  He lived in Santa Monica for five years, and currently resides in Pacific Palisades and works in Santa Monica.

Jodi Summers- Ms. Summers is the founder of the SoCal Investment Real Estate Group, a top producing team with Sotheby’s International Realty in the Los Angeles area.  Her specialty is investment properties and coastal real estate.  Additionally, her background includes music journalism, where she worked as a senior editor and photo editor for various industry magazines.  Ms. Summers’ currently serves as Communications Chair and as a member of the Zoning Subcommittee for the Ocean Park Association, and is an active member of the Save the Civic community group.  Ms. Summers has lived in Santa Monica for 17 years.

Carey Upton- Mr. Upton is the Director of the Facility Use Department for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, with primary responsibility for the operations of Barnham Hall.  Mr. Upton’s background includes 34 years of experience working in theater, performing arts and entertainment.  Prior to SMMUSD, Mr. Upton managed historic theaters in downtown Los Angeles and managed regional theaters.  His community involvement includes membership on the Santa Monica Performing Arts and Field Sports Advisory Committees, Santa Monica Chapter of the American Red Cross Board of Directors and Santa Monica Rep Theatre Company.  He has worked in Santa Monica for eight years and lives in Los Angeles.

Iao Katagiri will represent the Arts Commission

Nina Fresco will represent the Landmarks Commission

Frank Gruber will represent the Planning Commission

Phil Brock will represent the Recreation and Parks Commission, with Lori Brown as an alternate



Final Report from ULI

ULI-FinalReportcoverIn May of this year, the Urban Land Institute, at the request of the city, sent a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to Santa Monica to study the situation with the Civic Auditorium and help the City come up with a plan to bring it back to life. These panels are comprised of highly qualified professionals who volunteer their participation. The result is expert, impartial analysis of how the city might solve the problem posed by the need to rehabilitate the historic Civic Auditorium to make it vibrant and successful again and how to fund both the rehab and the future operations. The TAP was provided with extensive briefing materials on the subject, and a set of specific questions to study before they convened. They met with an intensive two day agenda that included stakeholder meetings, site visits and numerous working sessions during which they deliberated into the evening. The result is a detailed set of recommendations and considerations that could be used as a road map for moving forward.

The Civic Auditorium TAP had seven members. John Alschuler, Chairman, HR&A Advisors, chaired the panel. The other panelists were Dan Massiello, Senior Vice President Public Finance, Kosmot Companies; Melani Smith, AICP, President, Principal, Planning and Urban Design, Melendrez; Michael Ross, CEO The Pasadena Center Operating Company; John Fisher, AIA, President, John Sergio Fisher & Associates, Inc.; and Thomas Wulf, Senior Vice President, Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group.

The Panelists met with members of the following groups in the City of Santa Monica: Community and Cultural Services Department, City Manager’s Office, Planning and Community Development, and Housing and Economic Development. Other stakeholders they interviewed were representatives of these groups: Nederlander Organization, Save the Civic, Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, plus two architects and an entertainment executive. The detailed list in in the final report below.

Click here to read the Executive Summary 

Click here to read the Final Report

Apply Now!

IMG_2351The application for the Civic Working Group is on line! Our job for the next couple of weeks will be to promote the link as much as we can to make sure that it reaches as many qualified applicants as possible. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium needs a perfectly balanced team of experts!!! Have you ever been involved in managing, building, booking, restoring or financing an entertainment venue? Can you meet monthly to sketch out the bones of a viable plan to get the Civic Auditorium back in action? Do you know someone who qualifies or can you post the information on a website, Facebook page or twitter feed that might reach interested people? Follow this link for the official details and to file an application. Completed applications must be submitted by September 16. Santa Monica City Council will appoint the five positions on October 22, 2013. Please share the link broadly!

Civic Working Group Application

All Applicants Welcome

IMG_2355On June 13, 2013, after receiving several letters from Save the Civic and our fans, Council voted to remove the live/work requirement for those applying to the Civic Working Group. The applications will go on line soon and we will post the link as soon as it’s live! Council discussed and mostly agreed that when they make the selections, they will give preference to Santa Monica residents, but they saw the wisdom in casting a wide net to make sure we can create a well rounded skill set within the group to get the job done. City staff believes they will be able to get the application on line on Monday and that the end date of the application period will be September 16, 2013. Council could make the appointments as soon as October.

The CWG’s objectives would be to work with City staff and consultants to:

  • Draft a vision for the future cultural and community use of the Civic as the hub of a cultural campus
  • Explore an appropriate mix of compatible adjacent uses, from open space to additional facilities as identified in the Urban Land Institute report
  • Evaluate potential financing options and programming and operating models for the Civic
  • Convene a community process to gather input and to build consensus regarding the future of the Civic
  • Provide Council with recommendations regarding the vision, feasible renovation options and the preferred long-term operating model for the Civic.

These are the qualifications interested folks should be able to show in their applications:

A Civic Working Group will provide professional and community input on the renovation, programming and long-term operation of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (Civic).  Members of the temporary Civic Working Group (CWG) will be appointed for one two-year term. The City seeks members who collectively demonstrate expertise in the areas of:

  • strategic planning
  • policy development
  • performing arts production
  • real estate development
  • construction
  • fundraising
  • event management

Members should collectively demonstrate broad knowledge of Santa Monica, along with a demonstrated commitment to and appreciation of the history and character of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.  Members will individually and collectively demonstrate achievements in leadership, creativity and innovation, ability to work effectively in a group-setting, and capacity to balance competing priorities.  All applicants are welcome, but those who live or work in Santa Monica will be given priority.  Pursuant to Section 2.32.280 of the SMMC, no Santa Monica City employee may serve as a member of any Board or Commission.

Also, the city attorney shared this advice at the meeting: Council may not be advised by those who will profit from the advice. So if you wish to be employed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium sometime in the future, it would be a good idea to check and see if a role on the CWG would be in conflict with that.

Casting a Wide Net

IMG_2381The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium project is moving forward! We are thrilled and heartened by the dedication and commitment city staff has shown in so quickly developing the outline for the Civic Working Group that will determine the next steps toward a new era of greatness at the Civic. The proposal that will come before council this Tuesday, August 13, is to create a 9 person working group that will include representatives from each of 4 relevant city commissions and 5 members of the public who have professional expertise in areas that will together create an experienced and creative knowledge base. The working group will refine the vision of the Civic as the hub of a cultural campus, explore possible adjacent uses to enhance it, and explore funding options. A public process will gather input and build consensus for a vision that is best for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, for the Santa Monica Community and our cultural needs overall.

Here’s the nitty gritty on the group. Four of the nine members will be current or former members of each of these four commissions: Arts, Landmarks, Planning and Recreation and Parks. If council approves the plan, the commissions will make their appointments at their September meetings. The other five members will be people with personal and professional expertise and experience in the following areas: Strategic planning, policy development, performing arts production, venue operations, real estate development, construction, fundraising, and event management. Collectively, they will represent a body of knowledge that will creatively and effectively define the future of the Civic. It will be a two year commitment that will include monthly meetings as well as possible subcommittees and special meetings.

But here’s the rub. The five professional members of the working group must all live, work, or own a business in Santa Monica. Save the Civic urges the City Council to drop this criteria.

We feel that the pool of talent in the entertainment-centric Southern California region is so rich, that such a requirement would limit our access to many bright and willing applicants who are based close enough to Santa Monica and are familiar enough with our ways to be great possibilities. While most of our Santa Monica commissions are required to draw from a local pool for good reason, this working group is a special situation where we would be greatly benefitted by drawing from the amazing resources of the Los Angeles area as a whole. Let’s cast a wide net and end up with the best possible combination of expertise.

Click here to read the Staff Report

Click here to view the draft application

Action: Click here to write to City Council and let them know that you think the Civic Working Group will be even better if they drop the live/work in Santa Monica requirement.

Next Steps: Identifying the Right Experts

SavetheCivicTeamThe City Council meeting on June 11 was well attended. Thirty people stood up and spoke for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. During the discussion among the council members, there was a consensus that we will need to move quickly to prevent further deterioration of the venue, that we should appoint an advisory panel to work out a feasible plan, and that a public process would be integrated with the panel’s work flow to vet the various trade-offs. The possibility of seeking a variety of different kinds of bonds to fund the project was discussed as that approach would ensure that the needed improvements for a successful venue are balanced with other goals and plans set for the site in the past, such as open space.

The next step will be to figure out the qualifications and experience that panel members will bring to the table to create just the right balance between entertainment, business and community goals. City Council will hopefully be looking at what staff suggests for this important step at the end of the summer. In the meantime, interim uses that will keep the systems running were approved by council. Staff estimates that the civic will be back on line in five years. Check out our Press page to see the latest news reports on the Civic Auditorium. There is quite a bit of buzz out there!

At left, enjoy a photo of the Save the Civic team taken before heading in to the council meeting.


943293_10200639702333536_1932677810_nSave the Civic has read all the reports, been to all the meetings and has spent hours debating the possibilites. We agree that the most important next step for City Council to take on Tuesday is the establishment of a Civic Auditorium Advisory Panel. This would be a group of experienced professionals from the entertainment business, financial experts, community members, city staff and others, who will make excellent decisions about its future with the single-minded purpose of achieving goals for the site culled from the community over several public processes in the past decade, assuring its financial sustainability and ensuring that the use made of the entire site only adds to and complements the visitor experience. We do not think the city should hang up the project with another 18 month visioning process.

We encourage you to use the simple form below to send an email to City Council regarding the decisions they will be making about the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on June 11, 2013. Even if you plan to show up, which we hope you do, it’s a good idea to get your thoughts in writing for the record. You can use the text we suggested or make it your own by editing right in the box on this page. This is what staff is asking council to decide:

  1. Review and comment on an interim use plan for the Civic Auditorium.
  2. Review and comment on options to manage and operate the Civic Auditorium.
  3. Review and comment on strategies to generate revenue for the renovation and operation of the Civic Auditorium.
  4. Review and comment on the concept of a Civic Auditorium as the hub of a Civic Center creative district and mixed-use cultural campus and preferred uses of the district.
  5. Direct staff to proceed with a community process and associated market feasibility and economic analyses and return to Council with recommendations for preferred uses and proposed modifications to the Civic Center Specific Plan as necessary.
  6. Authorize the budget changes as outlined in the Financial Impacts and Budget Actions section of this report.

The details can be found in the staff report here: Options for the future of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium – City Council Staff Report – June 11, 2013

Read the letter that Save the Civic sent in here: City Council Recommendation from Save the Civic – June 11, 2013

Click here to go to the email city council page; the email form is below the message.

The Community Meeting June 4, 2013

CommMeet6-4-13bLast night the city held a community meeting to get us up to speed on what’s happening with the Civic Auditorium. There were 115 people present. A multi-step meeting format provided for both in-depth small group discussions on particular topics as well as passing the mike so individual ideas could be heard. We took notes and we shot video. Click on the link below to read the notes. We will let you know if and when we succeed in posting the video.

The upshot of it all was that the Civic is a beloved venue and it is worth it to work towards reinventing its role as a community cultural hub. Funding will be the biggest challenge. Many people were interested in how a bond measure would work for it. Ancillary uses that could create a synergy with the Civic, raise money, and don’t dominate the architecture of the site were discussed. Several people feel that open space is still an important component as well. An advisory panel that would over see the rehabilitation plans and implementation, and then shift gears to be in charge of operations seems widely supported…but you read the notes!

Community Meeting Notes 6-4-13

City Council Meeting Tuesday June 11, 7:00 pm!

Come show your support for the Civic Auditorium so the council will be sure to direct staff to continue the work. Ask Council to get the ball rolling on a Public Advisory Panel of experts to help us find the solutions we need.


June Meetings


The City of Santa Monica will be holding a community meeting to update folks on the status of the Civic Auditorium and get feedback from you:

Tuesday June 4th, 7:30 pm

Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Avenue Santa Monica

Read a recent report that sketches a series of possible plans: Urban Land Institute Techinical Assistance Panel slide show presentation on the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium – May 10, 2013


The Department of Cultural Affairs will present options for possible interim uses of the Civic Auditorium after June 30th, when it will not longer be open to the general public. They will also be presenting options and asking for directiion for what next steps will need to be taken in order to get the Civic back.

Tuesday June 11th, 7:30 pm

City Hall Council Chambers, 1685 Main Street.


The Save the Civic Coalition Needs You!

The Coalition the Save the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium NEEDS YOU, as the Civic Auditorium is mothballed or partially shut down on June 30, 2013. Join us and follow our efforts to monitor the City of Santa Monica process to ensure that the City moves forward in seeking an operator or operators to bring the iconic venue back to life.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, built in 1958 (designed by Welton Becket, who also designed the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood), is an iconic modernist landmark anchoring the civic center. The Civic Auditorium has showcased such significant events as the Academy Awards, the TAMI shows and pretty much any band you’ve ever heard of from the 1960s through the 1980s. In recent years, however, technical systems have become outdated and management of the facility has failed to position the Civic as a profitable venue. The City’s recent plan to revive the Civic by contracting with a new operator, the Nederlander Corporation, has fallen through because of the loss of Redevelopment Funds earmarked for the renovations.

Follow us on our Save the Santa Monica Civic page on Facebook or check back here often to find out when critical meetings where your input or presence will be valuable.