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Downtown Santa Monica Becoming Urban Core of the Future
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Lookout Staff

August 23, 2016 -- Santa Monica’s downtown is transforming into the urban core of the future as its population grows, stable high-tech jobs move in and the lifestyle there becomes about eschewing cars for walking, or hopping a bus or Metro train, the head of the group that manages downtown said.

“From Santa Monica to Cape Town and Sydney to Vancouver, Downtowns are flourishing,” Kathleen Rawson, who heads Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) said in presenting the non-profit organization’s annual report.

The report, which covers the 2015-2016 fiscal year, said downtown’s residential population has doubled to 4,352 over the past decade, growth eight percent between 2015 and 2016 (as projected) alone.

The median age is 37.8, and is mostly comprised of those from Generation X, between 34 and 54 years of age, and Millennials, between the ages of 18 and 34. She said 64.5 percent of downtown dwellers have a bachelor degree or higher, approximately the same as the city in general.

Nearly all of the 2,677 housing units in downtown were rental and the vacancy rate was only about 2 percent. The median rent for apartments there was $1,962, or a jump of almost 12 percent from 2015, Rawson said.

Almost 60 percent commute to work, which takes about 20 minutes each way. But close to 21 percent walk, about three percent take the bus and six percent carpool, the report said.

Downtown accounts for less than five percent of Santa Monica’s geographic size, but generates 37 percent of all sales-tax revenues for the City, totaling $1,201,511,500 in 2015 – or an increase of almost six percent from the previous year, the report said.

It also said that, in all, downtown’s contribution to the City’s economy was more than $1.3 billion.

Despite high-tech establishing itself in downtown, the largest segments of the economy there were categorized as accommodations and food services, which totaled 20 percent, and retail, which was about as large.

Downtown’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel is the largest private employer, with 405 workers, the report said.

Rawson, who is chief executive officer for DTSM, detailed the new report and the “State of the Downtown at the group’s August 18 annual meeting. She noted that Santa Monica's downtown was not as badly damaged as other urban districts nationwide by the Great Recession, but as the recovery has taken hold, more downtowns are springing to life again."

She said the organization worked “tirelessly” to keep sidewalks, alleys and parking structures clean, updated lighting on the Promenade and installed new landscaping and railings on the dinosaur fountains. In December, DTSM also completed a massive clean sweep of Lincoln Boulevard, she said.

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