On Election Day, I joined a group of housekeepers at the end of their shifts on a small street behind Le Merigot Hotel, a luxury beachside resort in Santa Monica. These women had decided they wanted a union and announced their desire to vote for one in a National Labor Relations Board election.
I spent this weekend as a Santa Monica resident for the first time in seven years. Interesting!
Technically my new digs are across the street, the dividing line between Santa Monica and Mar Vista. Coincidentally it’s the same area that I wrote about in my second murder mystery Rip-Off, the airport location of a clusterfuck shootout that shames my hero, Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department.
I’ve been in the city off and on, but as a visitor in these last few years. Now I have a base. My dog Lily and will be here from time to time in an effort to develop a plot for my next Dave Mason mystery.
The contrasts of Santa Monica fascinate me. I drive down Broadway and see the dark doorway of the union hall where I used to work. Three homeless men are huddled there.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, distance makes reality look rosier. From a long way off Santa Monica appears like a liberal’s fantasy of justice in paradise. After all, we have a tough rent control law and we’ve had a mostly enlightened city council, government and school board for more than three decades. But from up close, the picture’s not that sweet.
A recent hotel approval exposed the reality. A developer wanted some special consideration for the 710 Wilshire hotel project that was oversized and out of conformance with zoning standards. Hotel workers in the city wanted to guarantee a decent wage for the people who would work in the new hotel as well as those who would build it. The city staff likes hotels because they provide an easy source of revenue. But the developer wouldn’t budge on the wage issues.
He wasn’t willing to require an operator to pay a decent income to hard-working,