July 30, 2020

Irresponsible and Illegal: Our Council in Action

This past Tuesday night the City Council voted 6-1 (Himmelrich the sole dissenter) to plow ahead with negotiations for a massive commercial hotel/office project on City-owned land at 4th and Arizona. Its action was irresponsible, illegal and contrary to the wishes of most Santa Monicans. It demonstrated anew the abiding power developers (and those special interests who benefit from their projects) hold with our City government.

SMCLC will now take legal action to enforce the important state law that requires our city to prioritize public land for open space and affordable housing over an ultra-luxury commercial project like this one. This is particularly important here, with a massive, out-of-scale project that essentially privatizes OUR public land, and will add 5,000 daily car trips, crippling our already congested downtown.

Hereís the good news: For over a month, the City weighed SMCLCís legal letter explaining multiple reasons it would be illegal for the City to continue negotiations without complying with the law. At the Council hearing, several Councilmembers openly recognized the substantial legal risk the Council was now taking:

Himmelrich: "I think itís illegal. I think that it poses great risk to the city."

Winterer: "Iím concerned about the legal risk."

McCowan: "I am really conflicted about the potential legal issues. Iím conflicted as someone who remembers projects that didnít go the way we as a community were promised."

Itís very unfortunate that the City, instead of following the law, turned to an expedient solution Ė push on and agree to the developerís offer to indemnify the City and pay the legal costs due once SMCLC wins.

Take away: Our legal position is very strong. The City is acting illegally. It abdicated its responsibility to follow the state law. Now itís up to residents to do what the City should have done - the right thing - and vindicate the legally required process for our public land.

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