SMCLC Tells the City - "No Backroom Deals" ... Again!

SMCLC and Neighborhood Associations vigorously oppose developer Maxser and Company's current plans to develop of one of the largest hotels in Santa Monica at 710 Wilshire Boulevard. Read their letter to the Planning Commission


June 10, 2009

RE: Item 5-A , 710 Wilshire Development Agreement with Maxser and Company

Dear Planning Commissioners:

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City and the Boards of the Friends of Sunset Park, North of Montana Association, the Pico Neighborhood Association and the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition, join together to urge you to reject the current plans for this project for the following reasons.

SMCLC has gone on record opposing "Development Agreements," which enable developers to build larger structures than they could under the current zoning code. "Development Agreements" make a sham of zoning as they allow wealthy developers to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us: If you don't like the zoning, you can change it for your project. Additionally, residents don't have a voice when these backroom deals are made; deals that profoundly affect their neighborhoods.

Earlier this week, SMCLC and over 150 residents sent an Open Letter to the City Council opposing any development agreements for developers who demolish affordable housing in order to build luxury units (e.g., Trammell Crow at 301Ocean Avenue).

The proposed Maxser and Company development is way too big, grossly out of scale with its neighboring surroundings, inappropriately upstages the landmarked building that is there, is inconsistent with the goals for this area of Wilshire in the current LUCE draft, and provides too few public benefits to justify a development agreement. The current massing models on page 10 of the staff report are chilling.

In addition, we are concerned that the community understanding of this project be consistent with the actual size and scale of this project. The WILMONT board - representing the community closest to the project - understood that the landmarked building would be revampedas a "boutique hotel," with minimal impact on the neighborhood. Instead, the developer is also proposing to build an 8-story building with an additional 240 hotel rooms, retail space, food market and a paseo. In fact, this project would be one of the largest hotels in Santa Monica with significant, irreversible neighborhood impacts. We are confident that when residents throughout Santa Monica are informed of all of the facts that they will vigorously oppose this project as too massive for the neighborhood.

For all of these reasons, we urge you to reject the project as proposed, and insist that the developer significantly down-size this project to harmonize with its neighboring surroundings in keeping with the goals of the LUCE.

Thank you,
Board of Directors, FRIENDS OF SUNSET PARK