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Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser dies at 59 [Updated]

January 9, 2010 | 10:12 pm

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