The loss of Vidiots is just part of the ongoing self-destruction of Santa Monica
By Marianne O’Donnell
The author is a Santa Monica resident responding to news that the foundation-run arthouse video rental shop Vidiots will leave the city due to rising costs and reopen elsewhere in 2018.
It is with much sadness and dismay that my husband and I found out that local community gem and renowned movie treasure trove Vidiots will close its doors on Feb.15 after 32 years, leaving Santa Monica for good.
Unfortunately, Vidiots joins an increasing list of cherished arts and cultural venues abandoning or forced to leave Santa Monica and what it’s become: a greedy city with a gutted soul.
The Santa Monica Museum of Art, Hennessey+Ingalls, Arcana and many others have left; art communities such as the airport studios and the Bergamot are in jeopardy; the annual Photo LA and Art LA shows are no longer taking place in Santa Monica; artists and creatives are shunning the city.
Every time one of those beloved community members leaves, it’s like a dagger in our and the city’s heart — and another stab at the city’s very own soul, making it increasingly irrelevant as an attractive community hub.
Yet it’s only one part of a larger problem: The community itself is disintegrating, with longtime community-focused businesses closing and being replaced by a constant turnover of “transient” businesses catering to visitors instead of residents.
Meanwhile, residents must drive miles or order online for basic everyday needs.
Longtime residents and community members are also leaving or being evicted, and they are replaced by an increasingly transient population that doesn’t invest in their neighborhoods but rather treats them like an extended Airbnb. Chocking traffic and lack of mobility in and out of the city add to the community’s demise.
Such unsustainable trends can be observed in other cities around the country and the world, but whereas other communities address the problem with vision and intelligence, the city of Santa Monica seems only too willing to give in to developers solely focused on short-term gains, with no interest in the long-term viability of the city.
Santa Monica urgently needs to stop this self-destructing trend, which is transforming a once-attractive community fabric into yet another generic commercial concept. It must stop focusing on quick, short-term gains and start focusing on the long view, i.e. a genuinely sustainable future.
As for us personally, we’ve been renters in Santa Monica for 16 years. We didn’t just come here for the beach. We came here for the community: the vibrant neighborhoods; the arts and creative vibe; the laid-back, mutually supportive neighborhood feel; the diverse supply of local businesses that catered to locals. The higher prices were worth it, but not anymore. It is with a very heart that we no longer consider Santa Monica our forever home.