Holbrook will be mayor for a year from Dec. 2005

BY ANITA VARGHESE

Santa Monica City Council members elected Pam O’Connor mayor of the City of Santa Monica Tuesday, December 14th, for a one-year term.

Herb Katz was elected mayor pro tem for a one-year term.

The City Council voted to elect Robert Holbrook mayor for a one-year term and Bobby Shriver as mayor pro tem for a one-year term starting in December 2005.

The public elects City Council members, who in turn select a mayor and mayor pro tem among the councilmembers.

Usually every two years in December, the City Council elects a mayor and mayor pro tem for two-year terms.

The council’s decision for mayors and mayors pro tem was made without comment, prompting critics to charge that councilmembers had met and negotiated the votes among themselves rather than during a public City Council meeting — a violation of the state’s open meeting Ralph Brown Act.

O’Connor had served as city mayor in the 1990s and hopes to use this year’s term as mayor to end the council’s practice of holding long meetings. She prefers meetings that end at 11 p.m.

DAVIES ESTATE — The City of Santa Monica received a $21 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation to restore the historic Marion Davies Estate and use the five-acre property as a recreation destination.

“We have been planning with our community and the officials of California State Parks since 1994 to bring this remarkable property back to life,” O’Connor said.

The estate, located on Santa Monica State Beach at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, was built in the 1920s by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies.

Designed by renowned California architect Julia Morgan, the estate consists of a three-story main house, three guest houses, two swimming pools and tennis courts.

In the 1920s, the estate was considered to be the grandest property on a stretch of luxury beachfront homes known as the Gold Coast.

The State of California purchased the estate in 1960 for the City of Santa Monica to operate as historic property and as a Santa Monica State Beach clubhouse.

The site was deemed unfit for public use after the 1994 Northridge earthquake damaged several buildings.

Although the city secured $1.4 million in state and federal funds to restore the estate for public use, the scope of the project required more financial resources that were not readily available.

The Annenberg Foundation grant, received just hours before the City Council meeting began, will allow the city and California State Parks to begin the environmental impact review process for construction in 2006, with completion estimated in 2008.

“This is an especially exciting project because this property will offer residents and families extraordinary access to a lovely stretch of beachfront property,” said Wallis Annenberg, vice president of the Annenberg Foundation.

“The project will also help restore and preserve a spot that has a unique place in California’s history,” she said.

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