Community thoughts is a community service of SMCLC to residents. The views posted do not necessarily represent SMCLC's views, but rather are the views of the writer.
Some of these postings are letters to city officials. The writer used the SMCLC e-post office for delivery and requested the correspondence be posted here.
I understand a developer wants to destroy our bowling alley, and that the Landmarks Commission will discuss on Monday.
The bowling alley is an irreplaceable Community Asset - replacing it with more condos for rich people and "affordable housing" would be a disaster for our Community.
Please help to retain the character of our city and the integrity of the bowling alley.
Mar 14, 2012
I have been a homeowner in Santa Monica for 9 years, but I have lived in Santa Monica for overs 30 years.
I am very concerned about all these proposed developments. The traffic in Santa Monica is horrendous. Allowing all the city council to continue down the path it has been going, I believe it will cause this once very quaint city to become like South Beach, Florida.
Jun 24, 2010
The council has praised the marathon LUCE process as exemplary and has repeatedly declared how proud they are of it. To manipulate the results by undermining key elements that residents have stressed as important is most certainly unscrupulous. Acting in such a manner would give solid reason to those that still have confidence you are a fair and representative body to abandon such beliefs.
Jun 22, 2010
I must urge you to adopt the draft LUCE and to oppose the last minute developer changes. The public has been working on this LUCE for six years and to accept the last minute revisions by special interests makes a mockery of the public review process.
I must ask you to oppose raising the draft LUCE height limits because higher height limits just ruin our community and will eventually result in additional stories being added. This I know from personal experience at 1722 Malcolm Ave in West Los Angeles.
I must ask you to oppose the Planning Commission recommendation to increase the height to 81 feet for the one million square foot Papermate Project. This exceeds the draft LUCE height limits. The community has been almost unanimous in their opposition to this project. The general public consensus is that this project should be scaled back to what the current zoning allows-300,000 square feet and current allowed height limits. We can't handle the existing Water Garden project, let alone another project almost the same size. This is intolerable!
I also must ask you to oppose the proposed change to the way that floor area ratios for residental developments are calculated. This would allow twice as much residental development as LUCE studied and recommended. Our small city is already extremely dense and we can't handle increased density and the traffic this will cause. Just look at Westwood now. Do we want this for our city of Santa Monica?
We don't need another auto mall on Lincoln Blvd north of the 10 Freeway. We already have an auto mall on Santa Monica Blvd that is struggling to survive in these hard economic times. There is no need to create another auto mall on Lincoln Blvd. Let's help the existing auto mall on Santa Monica Blvd survive.
In summary the people of Santa Monica invested six years in the draft LUCE. To make changes to this draft LUCE now makes a mockery of the public review process and the public won't tolerate this.
Dr. Daniel Galamba
Jan 27, 2010 (from the SM Daily Press)
...The public benefits described for nearly 1-million square feet of additional development at Olympic Boulevard and 26th/28th streets are not public benefits but benefit the development itself. ... Projects such as this one make a resident feel as if we have been annexed to Los Angeles... read all
Jan 26, 2010
The proposal for this development is a rediculous idea.
I drive in that area every day and if anyone on the commission did as well, it would never even have been considered. Quit accepting the cash for development projects and get real jobs people. It has looked really dishonest and underhanded for sooooooo long in Santa Monica, and everyone I have ever talked with could not agree with this line of thinking more.
You guys suck at your "jobs" and all need to be fired by the people who pay your salaries immediately.....the residents of Santa Monica.
Jan 25, 2010 (Fom the SM Daily Press)
For what it’s worth, I vehemently object to the proposed Bergamot Transit Village Center project slated for the Paper Mate Pen property at 26th and Olympic. You can call it a “transit village” all you want but in the final analysis, it’s a huge office complex in the middle of an already over-built part of town. I suggest that you and the other people on the Planning Commission spend some time at or near the Cloverfield/Olympic intersection any weekday morning or late afternoon and you’ll know all you need to know about why a project of the massive scale of the Bergamot Transit Village Center is ludicrous!!
Jan 24, 2010
After 25 of living in Santa Monica, I am now fearful every time I must use the car to do business anywhere in the City. Parking rules vary from street to street, and those with the most lenient rules are packed. Meter prices have changed overnight, and parking fees will go up next year, I am told, for other places I count on - like the fees of the City structures. The old five minute drive to the freeway morning, noon or night is now a frustrating 15-20 minutes due to insane amounts of traffic on 4th Street.
The planned Bergamot Transit Center will bring more traffic woes like the gridlock that is a constant on Santa Monica Blvd., and more parking problems into the area. No, no, no, please! Managing on Social Security with all these time, energy and financial increases is already a hardship for this senior citizen!
Jan 23, 2010
I am a 25 year resident of Sunset Park and currently serve on the City of Santa Monica Personnel Board. I am strongly opposed to the massive development now being floated for the Paper Mate factory site. I urge the planning commission to send the developers 'back to the drawing board' for massive reductions in the size of the proposed development. It is unfathomable to concerned citizens that the Planning Commission might in fact give consideration to allowing development that is MORE THAN TRIPLE the size of what current zoning allows.
Please please do not allow any increases to the horror of what is already a planning and traffic disaster in this densely traveled part of our city.
Jan 22, 2010
Hon. Servant of the City of Santa Monica,
Please join the residents of this city in defeating the porposal for Bergamot Transit Village Center, a short-sighted, ill-planned project which will compound traffic gridlock and enrich developers at great cost to to city and its residents. Say no to greed.
Jan 22, 2010
To allow this behemoth project is insane. The gridlock on the 10 freeway and 26th street is enormous. During AM rush hour, traffic is backed up for miles. In the late afternoon I don't even think about going east on the 10 or near 26th street and the surrounding areas.
If you care about the future of Santa Monica you will not allow this project and other major projects on the drawing board.
Jan 22, 2010
Please stop Bergamot Transit Village Center project.
Jan 21, 2010
I am shocked at the news of this potential plan.
We do not need a "village" here. This word is one adopted by developers and is an abuse of the original meaning of the word. Its proposed enormity is beyond anything Santa Monica can contain and would make an already appalling traffic problem utterly beyond bearable.
This deveoplment is not in the interests of Santa Monica - the city and its residents.
This development is all about how much money can be made by out-of-towners who couldn't care less about us and the destruction of our city.
I am 100 per cent against this plan.
Sept 25, 2007
The removal of some trees on 2nd and 4th street seems like such a small issue compared to the massive amount of development that has, is and will continue to occur in "our" city despite the desires and vision residents have for the city.
It is one more decision that is being made ostensibly for the good of
the city, i.e. to increase tourism and bring more income to the city. However, residents are happy with these trees, the city's goal of sustainability is met with these trees, and there is no proof that fewer, smaller trees will increase business.
There are many other measures that could be done to beautify the streets: Clean the sidewalks, add planters, improve signage, store window design, refresh and repaint store fronts, to name a few.
Our city manager has expressed concern that residents did not voice these concerns during the public process re. 2nd and 3rd street makeovers, but it's better to have occurred late than never.
Aug 27, 2007
email exchange from Ted Winterer.....
Mayor Bloom and Honorable Councilmembers,
Today's LA Times reports that developer Hines has acquired the Paper Mate site at 26th and Olympic for $75 million and intends to build 300,000 square feet of office space in a neighborhood already heavily congested by traffic from the Water Garden and similar projects.
If this is true, then:
1. A huge amount of office space will be added to our city, further disrupting the job v. housing imbalance, while arguably adding little to the City coffers after the cost of new services to these tenants are provided.
2. Intersections that already rate an "F" for their level of service will be further stressed.
3. The use of seven acres of land will be greatly intensified based on land use and circulation plans which are now more than 20 years out of date.
While I can't speak for the neighborhood organizations and SMCLC, I imagine that the prospect of just this sort of traffic-clogging, socially disruptive and poorly planned development is the reason all these groups have argued for a citywide moratorium on large projects until the LUCE revisions are finished. We really need to free Ms. Fogarty and her staff from processing and shepherding development applications so they can expedite a cogent plan for the future of growth in Santa Monica.
I wanted to point out something not reflected in the article today. The purchased property is heavily contaminated in at least two significant areas on the property and will require several months (probably two years at minimum) of testing, plan approval and contamination removal before it is capable of being developed. It is our belief that the LUCE will be completed prior to this estimated timeframe.
I hope all is well in your world?
While this particular site may not be developed for 2-3 years, I suspect it's the canary in the coal mine (and I hope it is perceived as such, since the large SRO projects were apparently not sufficient cause for the City to take significant steps towards slowing large developments prior to the completion of the LUCE revisions).
How many projects of a similar scale are being assembled right now, on sites which don't require remediation and of which city planners are not yet aware? Are we really going to let Santa Monica become a regional office center lacking the transportation infrastructure for such a challenge? How much more growth are we going to allow based on antiquated planning documents?
We're driving without a contemporary road map and it makes sense to apply the brakes until we know where we're headed.
Most is well in my world (and thanks for asking), but things would be better if city officials and staff showed a bit more gumption about tackling the problems wrought by the current pace of development and assuring Santa Monica's future is as glorious as it ought to be.
January 9, 2007
RE: Public Review
I have owned my home in Santa Monica, for nearly 19 years now. I live at 2331 - 29th Street in Santa Monica. I grew up in this city and attended both Lincoln Jr. High and Santa Monica High School in the 1970's.
Our two children have been raised in the Santa Monica School system.
I also have parents who have resided in the city for more than 30 years.
I am against ending public review of new projects.
Please count my vote for continuing public review of new commercial - non-profit and otherwise- ventures in the City of Santa Monica.
Debra R. Silverman
January 9, 2007
Please do not adopt proposal permanently exempting affordable housing projects from public review.
SM does not have a regular daily newspaper and the council's notice of the review is the ONLY PUBLIC source of information available. Over the past 30+ years the council has generally played fair with citizens by giving them info and opportunitiy to learn about and express opinions on city matters. Don't change your direction now.
Thank you for your devotion to the city.
January 9, 2007
Subject: Elimination of Pubic Review
I wholly support the continued and enhanced production of affordable housing in Santa Monica.
However, I feel it is premature to enact this ordinance prior to the completion of the LUCE revisions and a new Zoning Ordinance.
Consider if you will the CCSM project on Main and Pacific. The only reason this housing provides even nominal retail frontage on Main Street is because of a public demand for it during the review process (the retail space will be, I believe, a mere 1500 square feet, but it's better than leaving a half block of commercial frontage completely barren of pedestrian-friendly services). The project may have taken longer to construct because of the review requirements, but it is better and more neighborhood-compatible as a consequence.
Until such time as the public and city officials have completed a review of the zoning requirements for affordable housing and arrived at a consensus on what elements are desirable in these developments (such as the choice between enhancing commercial streetscapes or providing additional housing), it is not appropriate to deny the community the opportunity to weigh in on these developments.
January 8, 2007
As a 30-year resident of Santa Monica, I am seriously concerned about the proposed ordinance limiting community input on developing projects. Residents should not be shut out of the process, no matter what the size of the new development may be. Community concerns may be about the approriateness of the size of the building, but they may be about other aspects of the project as well, having nothing to do with its size. To restrict community input is not an idea I support, and I encourage the City Council not to support it as well.
January 7, 2007
On Tuesday, the SM City Council is set to review a proposal to adopt an ordinance which will permanently exempt 100% affordable housing projects of 50 units or less from public review by eliminating development review or conditional use permits in multi-family districts and enumerated commercial districts respectively.
Would someone please explain to me what the benefit of this could possibly be? Santa Monica residents have been subjected to the building of project after project, both residential and commercial, with no or inadequate public review. Is it any wonder that the residents feel disenfranchised, as they stand by powerlessly and watch the character of their neighborhoods be destroyed by huge, expensive projects.
Without meaningful input, the neighbors of these new housing projects would certainly be inclined to see it as just one more way that our Council favors developers over residents. While affordable housing is, in itself, a laudable goal, it should not be attained by running roughshod over neighborhoods and establishing an adversarial dynamic.
The basic principle here is that Santa Monica residents have a right to participate in their own government. These decisions affect our lives. We have a right to participate. Get it?
January 7, 2007
RE: Elimination of public review of public housing projects
What makes this proposal so bad is that it is unnecessary. Unnecessary because the existing relaxed standards, expedited process, and closed door funding approvals have allowed the public housing development agenda to manifest and exceed its goal. Low income housing projects are now so plentiful, the largest landlord in the city is the city created and sponsored, Community Corp.
The success of that agenda makes this proposal mean spirited and vindictive of residents who are critical. And, they speak out, after being encouraged to do. This proposal epitomizes how afraid, hypocritical and torpid city hall has become when it concludes it should not operate in the open, face residents or be held accountable.
So what has the city so spooked? If all is right with these public housing projects, city fears are unfounded. It seems the growing criticism of public housing is truly justified. Size, scale, parking, school population - are legitimate public concerns. Concerns that should be addressed. An honest public representative would take note and adjust, instead Santa Monica finds its governing body avoiding responsibility.
One only needs to remember voter initiative S. That resident uprising came about after a few hotels were built on the beach. Those first structures illustrated how poorly the abstract building standards translated to bricks and morter. The council failed to acknowledge resident concern, so the residents took it to the ballot box. Should the council fail again, perhaps it is time again for Santa Monica residents to take the initiative... and put one on the ballot.
January 6, 2007
RE: Exemption of Public Review
I could not agree more with SMCLC's letter. The reasons and conclusions are plain, logical and honest.
The supporters of this proposal are hypocritical and afraid of the public's criticism. Champions of resident involvement? Oh yes, for everything but self-serving agendas.
I am disgusted at the attempted exclusion. Very undemocratic.
Vote no to this proposal.
Nancy Cook Smith
January 6, 2007
Do not adopt proposal to exempt public review of housing units of any number!!
January 6, 2007
RE: Proposed ruling exempting affordable housing from review
I have read the letter on the above subject which SMCLC sent to the Council, and I strongly agree with the views presented in that letter. I urge you NOT to pass the ordinance exempting affordable housing from the customary review process.
January 6, 2007
I add my voice to those of others who want to have public review of affordable housing projects. We already have more than enough new unsightly housing and mixed use buildings in the city with a review process. We are well on our way to being an overdeveloped, overcrowded city in general Any increased exemption from review may very well result in overcrowded living spaces for those who cannot afford housing in Santa Monica. We need to continue our goal of maintaining affordable housing in Santa Monica without departing from our vision of the city.
January 6, 2007
As a member of the SMCLC Board I must express my disagreement with its position in favor of eliminating the exemption from discretionary review of 100 % affordable housing projects of 50 units or less. Although I understand (or think I understand) the SMCLC's position that somehow the lack of public review will place affordable housing projects in greater jeopardy, I find the reasoning contained in the January 5, 2007, letter to the City Council not to be supported by the facts as I understand them.
I thought Santa Monica residents had the conversation about affordable housing and came down in favor of it. Each election cycle, the loss of affordable multifamily housing due to vacancy decontrol and other restrictions on our rent control law is widely discussed. Replacement housing, like the 100% affordable projects subject to the current, four-year-old exemption, is limited to 50 units or less because that is what is compatible with our existing community.
The price of land in Santa Monica makes permanently affordable housing projects very hard to piece together. The loans and government subsidy packages available to non profit housing developers really are very tenuous and very competitive. Part of the competitive process requires the developer to work with the community to ensure the project's compatibility in terms of location, scale and design, etc. The exemption does not exclude meaningful community overview nor affect existing zoning restrictions. But it does protect projects from frivolous lawsuits like the one which is referred to by the SMCLC in its recent letter, as well as threatened litigation by residents like that which almost derailed $30 million in funding for the public?s beach club at 415 PCH.
The exemption helps us maintain replacement housing for our seniors, our family members and our friends who are forced out of affordable rent control units and are not even remotely served by the private housing market.
January 5, 2007
RE: disenfranchising residents
It is repugnant in a democracy to cut local residents out of a decision that affects their immediate neighborhood. How can you even contemplate exempting 100% affordable housing projects of 50 units or less from a timely and thorough examination, not just by city staff, but those who have to live day-by-day with the end product?
Elected office is a trust, not a right, lent to you by the residents of Santa Monica. To serve honorably, carry out their wishes, not impose your own.
Harriet P. Epstein
January 5, 2007
Please do NOT adopt an ordinance next Tuesday permanently exempting affordable housing projects in multi-family and commercial districts from public review. I believe public review is important and feel that residents should not be disenfranchised.
January 5, 2007
RE: Public review
I endorse the SMCLC's position on this issue.
In addition, allowing the Housing Department to spend millions of dollars funding these projects with no city council review lacks transparency. If the Chief of Police cannot buy automobiles for his officers without Council approval, why should Mr. Moncrief be able to spend millions of dollars with NO public input?
January 5, 2007
I feel very strongly that 50 unit affordable housing buildings should be held accountable to the same city review processes that all other proposed buildings require.
Although I do feel that affordable housing is important, ALL new construction has profound effects on the city's infrastructure and residents.
In terms of traffic mitigation, 50 affordable units has the same impact as 50 luxury condos.
Particularly when the new LUCE revisions have not been set, this would be a bad precedent to set in terms of exemptions from legal procedures.
January 5, 2007
As a long-term Santa Monica resident and homeowner, I strongly disapprove of any ordinance intended to eliminate or restrict public input by local residents into the planning of affordable housing projects of 50 units or less in "multi-family districts."
By eliminating our participation in development review, you would prevent us from airing valid and insightful concerns about local projects WHILE meaningful corrective action can yet be taken.
Our household has consistently supported a mix of housing in Santa Monica, but each project and location has its own unique qualities and consequences.
The people who are and will be MOST effected by the choices made -- the consequences of which will also be borne by future residents of the new housing -- deserve to be heard along with planners and developers.
Sincerely, Alicia Wille
January 5, 2007
Please do NOT exempt affordable housing from the public review process. I am in favor of affordable housing, but it should, like ALL other development projects in this city, pass before the public for our scrutiny.
November 4, 2006
Money from developers going into City Council campaigns is a legitimate issue and to bring it up is not "nasty" ("Politics take a turn for nasty," Oct. 31, page 1) That's why the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City co-sponsored the rally this weekend to protest the hundreds of thousands of dollars hotels and developers are pouring into our city to defeat Kevin McKeown, a Council person who shares many residents' concerns about over-development. It's also why the SMCLC sent out a flier exposing the money Councilmember O'Connor took from one developer -- money she took, not even during an election cycle, and when that developer had business pending before her.
Instead of attacking residents who question her actions, wouldn't it be refreshing if Ms. O'Connor said something like: "I can see now that taking money from executives of a company who had proposed the largest development in SM history, before I was to vote on their new proposal, was not the right thing to do. At the time, I didn't think it would have had any effect on my vote. But now I can see that by even presenting the appearance of impropriety, I have let the residents of Santa Monica down. I promise that should voters give me another chance, I will not accept money from large developers with business pending before council."
If only I was Pam O'Connor. I'd be a much better Pam O'Connor than she is. But no. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “You have to fight with the Pam O’Connor you have, not the Pam O’Connor you want.”
Unfortunately, the one we have has chosen to attack residents who are trying to protect Santa Monica from over-development. It's similar to when she attacked Santa Monica parents who came before council asking for funding for neighborhood schools. In that instance, she called them "thugs."
I get the feeling Ms. O'Connor may not like most of Santa Monica's residents.
Everyone makes mistakes. Character is judged, not by the mistake, but by how one addresses it. Ms. O'Connor has failed that test.
October 26, 2006
As we're all aware, ballot measures are frequently accompanied by advertising which is misleading at best, and often downright dishonest.
If one were to compile a list of those whose ads were the most misleading, deceptive, dishonest in recent memory, near the top of the list we'd see the 2000 election's "yes on KK" campaign (a slyly mis-named "living wage" measure which would have guaranteed a living wage only to a small number of people working in Santa Monica, but exempting the luxury hotels near the beach from having to pay a living wage to their workers), and 1994's "yes on 188" (a proposition which masqueraded as an anti-smoking measure, complete with a totally phony nonsmokers' rights group; but funded by the tobacco industry and which would have replaced all the local nonsmoking ordinances with a much weaker statewide law).
Both those campaigns were run by the Dolphin Group, a Westwood PR firm. But what does all that have to do with this year's election?
Like many other Santa Monica voters, I've wondered who the people calling themselves "Santa Monicans for Sensible Priorities" actually are. It didn't take much effort to get a few hints.
First of all, the group's "Major Donor and Independent Expenditure Committee Campaign Statement" which is on file at the city clerk's office names the filer as a Beverly Hills development firm. That doesn't really sound like a group of Santa Monicans to me.
But wait, there's more. The group's brochures point us at a "cityhallstories.com" website. Who's behind that? The "cityhallstories.com" domain name is owned by ... guess who? The Dolphin Group.
Keep in mind that these are the same people who have sent countless mailers waging a nasty smear campaign against Kevin McKeown. And I haven't even mentioned Dolphin Group's biggest claim to shame: The infamous Willie Horton ads from the 1988 presidential campaign. Yep, they're the folks who dragged political TV ads to an all-time low.
It baffles me that an organization which has chosen to hire a PR firm with such an unsavory background should expect to have any credibility with the voters of Santa Monica. Why should we believe anything they tell us?
July 19, 2006
My personal thanks to all of you for taking a stand. That your efforts paid off in the way they have is a huge thing... a milestone in the preservation of a right to have a voice about things that impact our lives here. This would not have been possible without your group. I had to wonder which side some of the city council members were actually on. The redesigned proposal is acceptable "progress". You stood up to Goliath and won!
Bev Kleiner (Resident since 1964)
June 9, 2006
Truth be told, I have probably enjoyed my 12 weeks of silence almost as much as you have.
For one thing, screenplays are more fun, though no easier, to write than editorials – especially since I can concoct exquisite punishments for the corrupt City officials who turn up in my scripts.
But I am compelled by my love for this gorgeously idiosyncratic beach town and the accelerating rate of profoundly wrong-headed City moves to break my silence and return to the arena. ...more
Feb 27, 2006
Selling parking permits to businesses to allow their employees to park in residential preferential parking zones isn't the worst idea I've ever heard. It might even be a good idea. However, the staff report leaves too many questions unanswered to make me feel comfortable moving forward with the idea at this time... more
August 25, 2005
A Ventura City Council member addressing the Planning Commission encouraged more development in Santa Monica by expounding a profoundly bleak picture of our future. No matter what Santa Monica does, he said, "traffic is the least congested now till the end of time... and density is the lowest that it will ever be again."
Should our city leaders make planning decisions based on this sad assessment? Are we really as incapable of improving our future as this suggests?
What if, not feeling well, you went to a doctor who gave you the same sorry assessment? What if that doctor said, "You are as healthy now as you will ever be. You will never feel better than you do now, and you will never look better, either." Would you quietly accept that, or perhaps, change doctors?
Would we accept advice from a police chief who told us that crime rates would never go down? Or from an environmental official who said that our air would never be cleaner, or an educator who said that our kids would never do better in school?
Then why should we accept the same from someone speaking about development?
Politics is about hope. We all hope for a better future and expect in our leaders the same quality. Someone who offers a bleak future shouldn't be in public service and certainly shouldn't be paraded in front of our planning commission to give us advice on development.
August 7, 2005
A July 29 letter from Santa Monica City Councilman Herb Katz stated that the redevelopment of Santa Monica Mall will proceed "publicly, transparently, honestly." If it does, it will be in spite of the city and the developer's efforts, not because of them.
Recently, residents had to sue the city to force it to release public documents about secret city/developer negotiations. These negotiations resulted in a massive, high-density proposal that met widespread opposition over its disastrous effect on traffic. The developer commissioned a survey of residents that only asked about the positive attributes of a new mall. The word "traffic" was never mentioned. What residents need is true transparency, honesty and real public participation.
August 3, 2005
In last week’s SM Mirror, Councilmember Katz stated that the plan for the redevelopment of Santa Monica Mall will proceed “publicly, transparently, honestly.” We hope so. But if it does proceed that way, it will be in spite of the city and developer’s efforts, not because of them.
Let’s look at the facts.
Recently, Santa Monica residents had to sue their own city in order to get it to release public documents -- that’s right, public documents -- about the City/developer negotiations which resulted in the first proposal. These negotiations, which had been held secretly (the opposite of transparently) for two years, resulted in a massive, high-density proposal which met widespread resident opposition and would have had disastrous impacts on downtown traffic and its environment.
Last week a Superior Court compelled the city to stop fighting its own residents and turn over these and other public documents. Apparently, the city will only proceed “publicly and transparently” if it is forced to by a court.
As for “honestly,” one only need read the developer commissioned/city-approved survey of Santa Monica residents to question that. In a stunning coincidence, the survey results showed that in spite of what residents seem to say at community meetings, they apparently want exactly what the developer wants (See Macerich’s advertisement in last week’s Mirror). How could that be? Perhaps it’s because the survey only asked about the positive attributes of a new mall. Questions about the known trade-offs of a larger development were nowhere to be found. Respondents were queried if they wanted fine dining, offices and residences, but were not asked if they would want those things if that resulted in a larger development which would increase area traffic. It was development without consequences.
Like food without calories.
Indeed, the word “traffic,” a key concern of most residents, was never even mentioned in the “survey.”
Those that commissioned the survey were so afraid of it revealing anything negative that questions about possible new building heights did not even mention possible new building heights. That’s right, while you and I might think about building heights in terms of “stories” or feet, the “survey” never mentioned those clear terms, only asking residents to compare possible new building heights to other existing buildings in Santa Monica, such as the “historic clock tower building” (Whatever that is).
And in an advertisement printed the same day as Councilmember Katz’s letter, the developer claims that according to their survey, residents also want underground parking at the new mall. But their survey neglected to mention that the city will probably be asked to pay for this cost, which could be between $60 and $100 million. Would residents have said they wanted underground parking if they knew the costs they were being asked to pick up?
And while we’re being honest, let’s talk about that underground parking we’ll probably be paying for. How many additional spaces would we get for our money, anyway? Since the developer wants to include offices and residential buildings in their redevelopment, how many new parking spaces, paid for by Santa Monicans, would be reserved for those private tenants?
When one subtracts that reserved parking, along with the amount of parking currently provided by the existing structures, would residents get ANY additional spaces for their investment? Could we actually end up with LESS public parking?
Objective questions, framed with actual real world trade-offs, would have resulted in honest and usable results.
We don’t yet know what the developer’s new proposal for Santa Monica Place will be. What we do know is that Santa Monicans own twenty percent of the site’s land (the city-owned parking structures) and so must be real partners in any decisions. Developer advertisements with families laughing and headlines boasting how many residents responded to their meaningless survey won’t cut it. What residents need is true transparency and honesty and real public participation.
At their June 28,2005 meeting, the City Council was faced with two important decisions affecting the redevelopment of Santa Monica Place. The first --- to remove it from the Civic Center Specific Plan so that decisions about the mall's future, including its appropriate height and scale, would be on its own track, as it should be. The second --- to require the developer of Santa Monica Place to conduct a separate environmental review of traffic and other environmental impacts of any proposed mall redevelopment.
The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) alerted the Council to the Coalition's concern about the potential stealth impact of approving the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Civic Center Plan without first clarifying that this was NOT an approval of an EIR for Santa Monica Place. In response, the City Council did make it clear that Macerich was not entitled to rely on the Civic Center EIR and voted to require the developer to have a separate traffic study of the impacts of any project proposal, as well as other appropriate environmental studies.
As a long-time Santa Monica residents, we realize how important it is for us to all stay alert and active in ensuring that our government represents residents first and foremost and that our community remains livable.
advisers to SMCLC