SMCLC Urges Council to Reject Last Minute Revisions
to the LUCE by Special Interests

June 23, 2010

TO: City Council

RE: Adoption of the LUCE and Rejection of Special Interest Revisions

As we reach this critical stage in the adoption of the LUCE, we are dismayed to see the intense last minute lobbying going on by wealthy special interests (i.e., the developers, auto dealerships, and their lobbyists) to revise the LUCE to maximize their development rights to the detriment of our community.
These special interests were all well represented during the six-year LUCE process. Their "wish list" was part of what our planning department grappled with in proposing the land use policies that are now in the LUCE --- and they got much of what they wanted. No one got everything they wanted, nor should they, as it would make the LUCE too one-sided. These land use policies, which will govern the future development of Santa Monica, attempt to balance the amount of new growth, particularly commercial growth which generates the most traffic, with real world traffic and other environmental and quality of life impacts.

What lessons did we learn from the past about commercial and residential development?

· That building over 9,000,000 square feet of Water Garden-type projects (and double what our last General Plan envisioned) has overwhelmed our City's street capacity and we can't build our way out of that problem without slowing down future commercial development and addressing the jobs/housing imbalance in a serious way.

· That over-incentivizing residential housing downtown, by discounting the FARs, has yielded a lot of unappealing and mediocre construction, but not the promised affordable housing that was the quid pro quo for the doubling of density.
Special interests surely hope you will ignore these lessons. That's why they're proposing revisions that include: 1) "greenlighting" up to 81 feet in height for the proposed Papermate site to allow one developer to build a million square feet in excess of what the LUCE allows; 2) proposing greater building heights either for higher ceilings or the number of stories that can comply with the greater heights; 3) doubling the FARS for new residential construction in the commercial areas with "floor area discounts;" 4) extending the reach of the hospital district all along Wilshire Boulevard, while shifting the burden of developing new workforce housing to the City and away from the hospitals themselves; and 5) adding a new auto row on Lincoln (east side) north of the I-10 freeway up to Wilshire.

Over 18,000 residents in Santa Monica voted in favor of Proposition T because they believed that this City failed them in its land-use policies in the past and that it was time for residents to put the brakes on new commercial development. The opposition claimed that T was premature, that the LUCE would bring relief. Now the rubber meets the road.

It's up to you, as the City Council, to turn back this last minute lobbying from moneyed special interests. Your role is to represent the entire community, not broker deals for wealthy developer and business interests at the expense of the community. We urge you to honor the six-year public process and to adopt the LUCE as written.

Thank you.

Cc: Rod Gould
Eileen Fogarty