On June 17, Santa Monica Councilmember Greg Morena announced that he will resign from his seat effective June 24 due to the impact the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Stay-at-Home order has had on his business and his employees.
“Like so many small independent businesses, I have struggled over the last three months to protect my family and my employees and their families who work at my restaurant on the Pier,” said Councilmember Morena. “I have taken out loans and gone into the red to feed them, keep up their health insurance, and do everything possible to have jobs waiting for them once this crisis is over. But unless I am able to renegotiate my lease for July and onward, I will no longer be able to remain in business.”
He added, “While this narrative is echoed throughout restaurants in Southern California, what makes my story different is that my landlord is the City of Santa Monica and I am a councilmember. As such, it is illegal to renegotiate ‘with myself’.”
Councilmember Morena was elected to the Council in November 2018. Throughout his tenure, he has focused on maximizing City efforts through data, meaningful community engagement, and creating new opportunities for economic development – even before COVID-19. He also demonstrated a commitment to developing policy through the lens of equity and inclusion.
“We’ll greatly miss the leadership and perspective Greg brought to our Council, as a lifelong Santa Monican and a business owner,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown. “Thank you, Greg, for all the hard work you put in during your service as a Councilmember. We know you still have much to contribute to this community you love so whole-heartedly, and we look forward to working with you.”
Councilmember Morena is a lifelong Santa Monican and Samohi graduate. He’s a familiar face in the community through his family business – The Albright – and through his longtime involvement in community organizations and events where you often see him with his wife and business partner and their two young sons.
“This is not the end of my involvement in civic life. In the immediate term, I plan to remain at the forefront of the City’s recovery efforts and hope that others will join as we work together to rebuild our local economy,” said Councilmember Morena. “I have nothing but confidence in Santa Monica’s future. We unite when times are tough and we make change together. This is one of those moments and I look to the future with nothing but hope.”
Councilmember Morena’s term ends November 2022.
Santa Monica’s City Charter provides that the Council has 30 days after a vacancy is declared to appoint an individual to fill the vacancy. Next steps in that process will be discussed at the Council’s next meeting on June 23.