Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser dies

Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser
Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser
City of Santa Monica

Funeral plans were pending today for Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser, who died Saturday following a long illness. Genser, who was 59, had been hospitalized since Oct. 30. His death was due to "multiple complications,'' City Manager P. Lamont Ewell said in a statement.

The cause of death was not disclosed. Genser, the city's longest serving elected official, had suffered several health setbacks in recent years. In 2006, he had a kidney transplant, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. When he was admitted to the hospital, he was fighting pneumonia, the newspaper reported.\

"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,'' Mayor Pro Tempore Pam O'Connor and City Council members said in a statement. "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, who had served on the city's Planning Commission, helping to guide the redevelopment of the Santa Monica Pier, was elected to the City Council in 1988.

He was elected mayor three times -- in 1992, 2000 and 2008 -- and was mayor pro tempore in 1991 and 1999.

Genser led on issues ranging from affordable housing and tenant protection, land use and zoning policies to environmental quality, workers rights, parks, public safety and funding for schools.

A lifetime Santa Monica resident, Ken began his 30 year career serving the public through appointment to a city Task Force for Revision of the Housing Element and was chair of the Goals and Policies subcommittee from 1980 to 1982.

He was a founding member of Community Corp. of Santa Monica, serving from 1982 to 1988, and was appointed as a planning commissioner from 1983 to 1985. He then served as a board member of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. from 1985 to 1988.

A memorial service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Ocean Park Community Center.