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Ocean Park Association Gives Neighborhood Residents A Voice

By Pamela Sosnowski

Residents of Santa Monica's Ocean Park neighborhood have a friend and a voice in the Ocean Park Association (OPA.) For the past decade, the OPA has organized the annual Fourth of July parade, helped to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood, and encouraged the participation of residents in local community events.

"It is, first and foremost, a means for our residents to voice their concerns, and to share about what is happening both in Ocean Park and throughout the city of Santa Monica," says OPA board member, Kate Kennedy. "We strive to be a resource for the residents, as well as a catalyst for bringing neighbors together."

The Ocean Park neighborhood is located in the southwestern corner of Santa Monica and runs from Lincoln Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean, and in between Pico Boulevard and the southern city limits. The neighborhood has a reputation for being vibrant and artsy; comparable to Venice Beach, but more upscale. A clean, safe corner of Santa Monica, it contains a mix of older smaller homes, apartment buildings, condos, and larger homes near the beach. Tourists and residents alike come to Ocean Park to visit the many boutiques, restaurants, and weekly farmer's market.

The OPA is comprised of several committees to address specific issues for neighborhood residents. The Lincoln Boulevard committee, for example, has been seeking ways of revitalizing a street that's been left to languish. An OPA board member and several volunteers painted part of a wall running along Lincoln Boulevard with a colorful mural, aiming to make the area less of an eyesore. In the future, the OPA hopes to attract more businesses to the street and make it a walkable area that people want to visit. Other committees are dedicated to protecting Ocean Park from the environmental effects of nearby airports, and the General Planning committee, which organizes fun community events.

One of these is the highly popular Fourth of July parade. "This is our marquee event, and an amazing opportunity for us to help showcase all of the wonderful people and organizations in Santa Monica, who are the stars of the show!" says Kennedy. "Not only do our members help to organize and put on this parade, but also serve as volunteers to ensure the success of this event. The support form the community is amazing, and the feedback has been that the parade just gets better every year!"

Other events the OPA organizes or participates in include the Santa Monica Festival, Summer SOULstice, Wellness Festival, Make Music LA, and more. In September, the OPA volunteered for the Heal the Bay event, in which over 10,000 volunteers across Southern California helped clean up local beaches, rivers, creeks, and parks.

Kennedy says that the OPA is always seeking new members who wish to get involved with these causes and fun events. "We are dedicated to increasing our membership so that we can share information and good times with all of our neighbors," she says. "From revitalizing Lincoln Boulevard to creating public art, we strive to make sure we address all our residents concerns and actively work to create positive actions around the issues. We encourage all who live in Ocean Park to come find out more about who we are and what we do!"

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