It makes sense. After all, Santa Monica’s corporate takeover is happening in other metropolitan areas, too. Just like the federal and state governments, local authorities need to generate tax revenue to provide services to their constituents. And whether we like it or not, many believe larger corporations are more stable revenue generators, so local laws and regulations are tailored to attract the Starbucks, Gaps, and Apples of the world.
To its credit, the city has implemented policies intended to nurture restaurants, such as discounted sidewalk space. “The outdoor dining license fees are kept affordable in order to serve as an incentive,” says Taylor. “This helps restaurants expand their visibility, increase seating, and take advantage of the climate. It also helps to make our commercial districts active and vibrant, so it’s a win-win.” Taylor says the city’s leasing policy guidelines, which apply to city-owned property at the Santa Monica Pier and in Downtown Santa Monica, prioritize locally owned businesses. In the hopes of helping people navigate the city’s permit and license process, they’ve also developed resource guides for starting a restaurant or cafe. And Buy Local Santa Monica, an ongoing free marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of local businesses, was first launched in 2009.