Midweek Rant #20: The Ambiguous Red Zone

November 30, 2009

When I got a job in Santa Monica, I was warned.

“Everyone walks around with yoga mats and reusable shopping bags – dude, it’s the worst.”

While I don’t fully get the problem with people doing yoga and/or bringing along a reusable bag, I understood the point.  I was about to start working in the Liberal Elite Capital of Southern California.  It’s hard to say whether it was the four year old daughter or the hippie wife of the founder of Santa Monica’s Bus System that got to come up with the name “The Big Blue Bus”.  Either way, it’s fitting for a city where a hybrid trumps a Corvette in terms of status symbols.

I can’t say I have all that much issue with the people of Santa Monica.  People are either really friendly or they’re in some sort of zombie state (whether induced by a chanting circle or a good old fashioned pass-the-doobie session).  You get the occasional crabby rich person, but a smile can easily put them in a happy place – something I was never able to achieve in Manhattan.

So do I love Santa Monica?  Am I going to marry it?  Huh?  Tree Hugger?

I wish I could say yes, but there exists one major hurdle for me to ever consider marrying it.  Fortunately it won’t be expensive for the city to fix its major flaw.  At Home Depot you can get a can of paint for about 14 dollars, which means for 28 dollars, all my woes can go right out the window (assuming they already have a paint brush).

So how ‘bout it Santa Monica?  Buy a couple cans of paint and get to work on the sidewalks so I know where I’m allowed to park.  Then we can talk marriage.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure, I’ve included some pictures.  You’ll notice the paint job from 1978.  It’s chipped away, so it’s only half red.  Does that mean I only get half a ticket?  Or do the newly painted hash marks in the street trump the color on the sidewalk?  I just don’t know!  But I’m guessing the guy in the hybrid parking enforcement car knows, so I make sure to always avoid the ambiguous red zone.  This can be rather difficult sometimes, since the non-ambiguous white zone will usually leave enough room for my compact Jetta plus four inches.  Maybe it’s meant to send a message to people with big gas guzzlers?


For anyone interested in policy making in general, I dug up footage from the 1982 Santa Monica City Council Meeting, the first of 28 consecutive years in which a motion for repainting the curbs was denied.  Check it out: