SMCLC/FOSP Objections to 2834 Colorado Development Agreement
June 24, 2009
TO: Santa Monica Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board
RE: SMCLC/FOSP NOTICE OF OBJECTIONS TO 2834 COLORADO AVENUE DEVELOPMENT/ DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT (PC Item 5-A)
In November 2007, SMCLC joined by the Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP) Board filed our objections to this project with the Planning Commission on the basis that it was premature for the City to enter into any development agreement discussions with this developer before the LUCE was completed; that the project’s proposed size, scale and traffic impacts were inconsistent with its neighborhood surroundings; inconsistent with the City’s 1984 General Plan; and inconsistent with residents’ views during the LUCE process.
We reiterate those objections that were well taken then and are more compelling now for these reasons:
First, the scope of this proposed project together with its irreversible impacts on our community have become greater and worse. The proposed project has been substantially increased from replacing an existing single-story 32,000 square-foot-facility with a three-story 115,200 square-foot-facility to a proposal for a five-story 151,600 square-foot-studio building.
Second, this project is inconsistent with the goals and principles that residents have articulated during the LUCE process and a consensus against high-density office projects that worsen the work/housing imbalance, create additional traffic and circulation problems in an already highly congested area, exacerbate environmental sustainability goals, and fail to provide offsetting economic benefits.
Third, this project is a large part of over 9 acres in this “special project” area that is currently slated for development. There are two other huge developments involving development agreements proposed in this same area (Roberts Business Center and Village Trailer Park), the cumulative environmental and traffic impacts of which will change Santa Monica forever. In order to avoid piecemeal development by the City, all of these projects and their cumulative impacts should be considered as a whole.
The circulation problem here is alarming and it cannot be swept under the rug.
Just this past weekend, the LA Times released a report showing that rush hour traffic congestion in this very area has increased anywhere from 7% to 15% at 26th Street and Wilshire and Cloverfield and Olympic. And it’s doubled at 20th and Olympic. The Times reported the crippling effect this traffic is having on residents’ mobility throughout Santa Monica and also on the Westside. The article and the chart are posted on SMCLC's website at www.smclc.net.
Fourth, SMCLC objects to this project because together with its neighboring projects, its proposed size and scale make it subject to a development agreement. We believe that all such large-scale projects requiring development agreements now or in the future which exceed our zoning laws should be submitted to residents for a vote. Our city has failed residents too many times in approving development agreements over the past 25 years without sufficient or substantial public benefits that would justify the greater height, density and uses allowed. Equally egregious, our city has not monitored these large-scale projects for compliance with traffic, circulation, parking or other required environmental mitigations.
This project is no exception and it (and the other projects) raise the fundamental question of what constitutes a real public benefit and are there sufficient benefits that would justify the counter burdens that will be imposed forever. This will be a matter of huge public debate.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to reject the current plans for this project, require that a scaled down version be submitted and request that going forward, the other two projects also seeking development agreements be discussed simultaneously with this one so that the true impacts of all of this development are appropriately considered.
The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC)
Board of Directors, Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP)