June 6, 2007

SMCLC and Neighborhood Group Leaders Meet with City About Building Moratorium until LUCE Adopted

Last week (June 1st) SMCLC and leaders of FOSP, NOMA, OPA, PNA, and WilMont met with the City Manager, City Planning Director, and City Attorney to discuss a building moratorium under California Government Code Section 65858 pending completion of our General Plan update known as LUCE. Under the city's current schedule, this process will not be completed for another TWO years.

Meanwhile, the City is approving projects based upon an outdated General Plan which does not take into account all of the building that has gone on in the 23 years since its adoption, all of the current building going on throughout our city, or all of the permits which have been filed or will be filed over the next 2 years. Much of this development pressure simply was not anticipated under the 1984 General Plan.

Fortunately, state law permits a city like Santa Monica to impose a building moratorium for up to 2 years while it revises its General Plan, so that developments which would NOT be built under the revised plan are not approved in the interim. Such a moratorium also frees up valuable staff resources in order to do the comprehensive update that the law requires for land-use changes and for circulation and other infrastructure constraints and compatibility.

For example, we apprised our city officials that the city of West Hollywood recently proposed (and has now unanimously adopted) an emergency interim ordinance while it revises the housing element of its General Plan, to prohibit permits from being issued to build market rate projects which demolish existing housing stock that is in good condition and replace them with fewer, luxury units. West Hollywood did so because this alarming trend is at odds with the City's housing goals and mandated state goals and is negatively impacting long-time residents and their neighborhoods. We believe that these same development pressures are present and currently unrestrained in Santa Monica, causing the loss of long-time, "rooted" residents who are unable to find suitable replacement housing.

[Above link is the city 5/22/07 current projects list of how many condo project permits have been applied for just in the past few months.]

We invited the City to work with us on crafting the necessary exemptions to a building moratorium, such as for affordable housing projects of a certain size or single family residential projects. The City is looking at this issue and has agreed to respond to us with its position in the near future.

We will be sending important information to our supporters and to all neighborhood groups shortly as we move forward together on this crucial issue.