September 26, 2020

SMCLC Sues City to Halt Plaza Negotiations

Yesterday, the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the City’s failure to abide by the Surplus Land Act. The Act requires the City to offer publicly owned land for affordable housing, park and recreational or open-space purposes before negotiating with a developer to privatize public land for commercial development.

Residents have been forced to sue because the City refused to follow the law. This is the only remaining major parcel of publicly-owned, undeveloped land in our downtown and the City is negotiating to privatize it. Public land should be used for a public purpose.

The City’s conduct demonstrates the abiding hold that developers and those special interests that benefit from their projects have over our city government; a hold so strong that the City Council has put aside its professed support for affordable housing and open space.

The City is plowing ahead with a highly controversial commercial development, centered on yet another luxury hotel and more office space,” Gordon continued. “This is unacceptable: Our city needs affordable housing and needs more open space. SMCLC’s lawsuit seeks to compel the City to pursue these community priorities on our public land."

Before filing this lawsuit SMCLC notified the City of its legal obligations and gave it ample opportunity to voluntarily obey the law. Instead, the City Council voted to continue negotiations and have the developer indemnify the City for any costs incurred if SMCLC prevails.

SMCLC’s lawsuit asks the court to issue a peremptory writ of mandate, requiring the City to cease its negotiations with the developer of the 4th and Arizona project and comply with the Surplus Land Act.

Beverly Grossman Palmer, a partner of Strumwasser & Woocher, represents SMCLC. Ms. Palmer is a well-known expert on land-use and environmental law and a long-time resident of Santa Monica.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Thanks to everyone who generously donated to this effort and everyone who contacted the City to urge compliance with the law.

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