SANTA MONICA—Greg Morena will resign from his position on the Santa Monica City Council on Wednesday, June 24, after a conflict of interest arose between his business and his position on the council.
Morena’s family has owned ‘The Albright’ restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier for 40 years. The financial effect of COVID-19 forced Morena to close down the restaurant’s doors three months ago. Now, Morena must renegotiate his lease in order to save his business.
Due to Morena’s City Council position and his restaurant location being on the pier, renegotiating his lease would be a conflict of interest. Morena would have an influence on both sides of the negotiation.
“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,” Morena told the Santa Monica Lookout. “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.”
California Government Code 1090 states, “officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by anybody or board of which they are members.”
Morena’s renegotiation of The Albright’s lease on the Santa Monica Pier would be in direct violation of California Government Code 1090. Public CEO reports a violation of Code 1090 may be treated as a felony punishable with a state prison sentence and a lifetime ban from holding public office.
Morena was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in 2018 and has been resident in the city for nearly 40 years. In 2016, he won the Sustainable Quality Excellence in Stewardship of the Environment Award. In 2017, he won the SQA Grand Prize, both for his work making the Santa Monica Pier and The Albright more environmentally friendly.
Mayor Kevin McKeown said, “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.”
In a Santa Monica press release, Morena said, “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…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.”
After Morena’s resignation goes into effect on June 24, City Council has 30 days to appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy. The first steps of this process will begin at the City Council meeting on June 23.
Morena’s term would have ended in 2022.