SMCLC opposes any lease extension of public beach land to Jonathan Club


June 8, 2009

Dear City Council,

Re: Agenda Item 8A (Negotiations with Jonathan Club re: lease pricing and terms for three seaward parcels of public land)

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (“SMCLC”) is opposed to renewal of the lease on the 38,000 square foot parcels of public trust land leased by the Jonathan Club due to significant increases in visitor use to the area.

As we understand it from the City’s records, in 1984 the Jonathan Club, the State of California, and the City of Santa Monica resolved litigation concerning the boundary line between public and private property at the Club. Under the settlement, the Club gave up “ALL claim to land seaward of the 1921 Mean High Tide Line” in exchange for a 25 year lease of these parcels as well as a parking lot adjacent to the Club. In 1993, there was a property exchange enabling the Club to own the parking lot outright. (See Council Meeting 9/28/93 and related action). The State approved the lease of the seaward parcels and the parking lot property exchange.

The Club and the City are now currently in negotiations regarding a ten year extension of the lease of this public land (the 3 parcels seaward of the 1921 Mean High Tide line) to the Jonathan Club.
There Has Been a “Material Change” in the Need for the Public Use of this Public Trust Land.

Use of Santa Monica beach lands since the 1984 lease has increased significantly. According to the draft LUCE, there has been a 54% increase in overnight visitors utilizing hotel accommodations between 2003 and 2006/2007. There has also been a 13% increase of overnight visitors staying in other accommodations, and a 15% increase in day visitors that reside outside of LA County. It can be deduced that a significant portion of these visitors to Santa Monica will utilize the beach. Already, the Coastal Commission estimates more than 20,000,000 unique visitors to our beaches each year - making us the most used beach in the County and most likely the state (based on 2002 data). If we project growth models based on the increases in visitors to Santa Monica in the last three to four years, we can project that there will be an intense need for expanding access to our recreational beach areas.

One of the key goals (Goal D12) of our soon to be adopted LUCE is to strengthen the physical and visual connections between the City and the beach by overcoming physical barriers such as the bluffs and depth of beach with improved pedestrian, bicycle and open space linkages. Specifically it says that new beach parks should be created North of the Pier in order to create flexible, open green space that is oriented to the water. The parcels currently leased to the Jonathan Club would be ideal for new parks and public recreational areas.

Goal 12.2 states that pedestrian and bicycle paths should extend the length of the waterfront. Currently, the only path is designated for bikes, but is used frequently by walkers and rollerbladers, creating a safety issue due to the disparities in speed between bikes, skaters and walkers. Several accidents are caused each year by mixed use of the current bike path. To best protect our natural resources, it would be preferable to extend the pedestrian path to the East of the bike path - which would potentially put it directly in the area currently used by the Jonathan Club. While the lease currently allows for the bike path to go through one of the parcels, it does not allow for development of the bike path or beach parks in the other parcels.

The addition of a pedestrian path and beach parks will also increase accessibility to the new Annenberg Beach Club, and would allow for a visual connectivity with the Pier. The community beach club is currently accessible only by vehicle or bike. Especially with the Montana bridge installed since the 1984 lease, local resident use of these beach lands has increased and pedestrian access to the new beach club would allow it to be much more accessible for local residents and visitors.

SMCLC believes that extending the lease with the Jonathan Club would severely impact Santa Monica’s ability to fulfill the goals of the LUCE and the needs of residents and visitors for increased access to recreational beach areas. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to not renew the lease with the Jonathan Club.


Cc: The California Coastal Commission
The California State Lands Commission