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Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser dies at 59 [Updated]

Ken Genser, the mayor of Santa Monica and a longtime member of the City Council, died Saturday, his family confirmed to The Times.

Genser, 59, had been ill since October. No further information was available.

Genser had served on the City Council since 1988, previously had served on the city Planning Commission and was involved in housing issues and restoration of the Santa Monica Pier. His current term would have expired in 2012.

[Updated at 10:12 p.m.: Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Pam O'Connor issued the following statement:

“It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of our Mayor Ken Genser, an indefatigable champion for quality of life in Santa Monica. Ken distinguished himself with a fierce intellect, passion for progressive social policy and compassion for people. He served the Santa Monica community throughout his lifetime and will be greatly missed.”

Genser was a fourth-generation Santa Monica resident who first became active in politics when the federal Housing and Urban Development Department unveiled plans to alter the historic Sea Castle residence on the Santa Monica shore, where Genser lived at the time. From there, he helped found the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, becoming active in housing issues.

By the mid-1980s, he was a member of the city Planning Commission and became a director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. His opposition to large-scale plans for commercial development in the city propelled him into his first City Council race in 1988. Fellow council members elected him to serve as mayor three times.

Genser was hospitalized for respiratory problems in October, and his duties were passed to O'Connor.

Funeral plans were pending.]

-- Geoff Mohan

Comments () | Archives (12)

Ken was one of the best council members ever elected by Santa Monica. He was fair, non-partial, and always listened to constituents. I am so saddened to hear this news. He will be very, very missed.

I moved from SoCal last year. Santa Monica is a great town but hated driving there. everybody wants to live there but they all think they are better than everybody else. it is a giant ant hill of weirdness and money. great shopping and restaurants but driving is horrible. fun to go to promenade and the pier. i miss it a lot. had to watch out for peds on SM Blvd. they walk out in front of cars on purpose. Ken made a huge change, a lot of pressure to be too nice, made it difficult to say no but everybody wanted to push everybody else around. one person wanted to have homeless be comfortable, one wanted homeless gone. one wanted dogs on beach, one would say no way. Ken had a tough job

RIP, my condolences to the family.

you be greatly missed wonderful mayor.

All I know is that, for the majority of my life, Santa Monica has been a really nice place to live. And I imagine that a lot of it comes down to this man. RIP. And thanks!


We will miss him. He was a man "Of By and For the People of Santa Monics"

We had our political differences but it is beyond question that Ken Genser was dedicated to public service and worked hard for his vision of the city. My condolences to his family and friends and this time.

I came to Santa Monica ~30 years ago and remember the deep divisions in the politics at that time. It seemed to me that the SMRR faction were disingenuous, looking out for their own financial interests and agenda. Having attended many Santa Monica City Council meetings, and watching them on the cable, I was impressed with Ken Genser over the years. He helped heal this fractious city. You may not agree with his politics but he would win over all his adversaries by his fair approach and hard work. He was always well prepared, thoughtful and respectful of ALL. He eventually won me over to his perspective the old fashioned way. He was one of the most compassionate politicians I have ever met, and Santa Monica, as well as this world, may never fill the void left by his untimely death. He unselfishly served the people of Santa Monica despite some physical constraints, and I believe may have been the best council member yet. RIP.

The only one on the council that actually wanted to be there. He was a rare one that listened, researched, stayed those extra hours and you knew that he put time and thought into what was being discussed. He was a real old school Santa Monican, not a yuppie who just moved here and was trying to change everything. You will be missed.

Thank you Ken, you will be sorely missed. Gone too soon. My condolences to the family and all that knew him so well.

Kenny is someone that i stay in a house with for two years . He was a very lovely person . My kids love him so much . we love you and miss you so much. It really hurt because Kenny is someone that work very hard no matter what he was going through . I respect him because he was a fighter and he love his mom so much . My son seeing how he was with his mom told me that he was going to take care of me the same way.


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