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City Council, Development, Letters To The Editor, Santa Monica

An Open Letter To The Santa Monica City Council Regarding Village Trailer Park

Posted Nov. 20, 2012, 12:58 am

Letter To The Editor

Dear Councilmembers,

Le Corbusier, the renown Swiss-born French architect, said “the fates of cities are decided in the Town Hall.” In your rush to approve the “East Village” project (the Village Trailer Park), you virtually ignored the design of this behemoth project with all its very serious flaws.

The community trusts that you take the time to understand what you are approving besides the eviction of 36 families from their homes. And the few concerns you did address were conveniently shuffled off to the Architectural Review Board which historically doesn’t grapple with anything substantive other than colors, plant materials and proportions.

In your zeal, you ignored some very serious neighborhood and project issues. In your haste to approve, did it not even occur to you that:

1) The 377 unit 799 car, 341,290 sq.ft. project exceeds by 11,450 sq.ft. the maximum 2.5 floor area ratio allowed in a maximum tier 3 project! (should the DA be cancelled and re-heard?)

2) The traffic impacts of 2,200 daily car trips, which cannot be mitigated, will likely lead to a +/- 10 percent loss in property values for the hundreds of residential homes in the immediate neighborhood, offsetting much if not all of the increased property taxes this project will generate – and since when are tax revenues worth architectural and environmental mediocrity!

3) Pennsylvania will likely become a signalized thoroughfare.

4) At a density of 100 units per acre, this project will be considerably more crowded that the infamous “projects” on South Los Angeles.

5) There will be 2 ½ years of construction impacts – trucks, noise, and air quality.

6) And who will operate the 10 unit mobile home park when the sustainability and operation of the park has no amenities (office, meeting room, public outdoor space or pool) and will obviously lose money with a whole litany of operating expenses.

7) And a building housing the majority of new units which is 725 feet long or almost 2 ½ football fields in length.

8) With inhumane interior hallways that are 560 feet long or almost 2 football fields in length without a single window!

9) The complexity of a 799 car subterranean garage with driving aisles in various directions including 5 dead end aisles.

10) Along with 20% of the spaces being tandem parking.

And then when you further realize that in exchange for handing the developer a $20-25 million profit in increased zoning and development rights, the city is only getting in return $2.2m in fees, two new dedicated streets which will catastrophically impact the adjacent residential areas, and expanded on-site sidewalks, pathways and courtyards which will be open to the public from 7am – 7pm, but will be in shadow from the 5 story tall buildings much of the day.

No amount of community benefits can make a poor project a good project, and especially in this case where the community benefits appear to benefit the developer more than the community.

And although suggested by the planning commission, staff never requested of the developer an alternative design, possibly a 20 percent less dense tier 2 project which seems far more appropriate for this site and would have been more consistent with the initial findings of the Bergamot Area plan.

It’s all a very sad process.

The one thing you did with great efficiency was coming to a swift, if not judicious decision. For the sake of our community, hopefully the courts will accomplish what you so miserably failed to do and rectify your rush to judgment.

What were you thinking – or not thinking? Is this the character and density you envision for the future of Santa Monica? Is quantity more important than quality? Since when are greed and density synonymous with quality of life? Are tax revenues worth architectural and environmental mediocrity? Is the birth of this new neighborhood more beautiful than the one it is replacing? You should realize that one who ignores a crisis is the same one who causes a crisis.


Ron Goldman, a very concerned resident

Post a comment


Nov. 20, 2012, 2:11:46 am

Jack Waddington said...

This is a great letter to the city council members; and yes it was all rushed through in haste. This is not democracy in the real sense of of that word, but a means to pay back, I suspect, a speculator hoping to make his millions at the expense of us resident/homeowners. This is greed at it worst. Democracy as purported by the Western Civilization is rapidly going to have to come to some re-thinking. I predict it will happen sooner than we think. Sincerely Jack Waddington B-16

Nov. 20, 2012, 2:15:19 am

david goddard said...

I concur with Mr. Goldman! Our thanks to Kevin McKeown and Gleam Davis for voting against the project and responding to the community's desire to re-evaluate. We are disappointed by the votes of Terry O'Day and Pam O'Connor who were both endorsed by SMRR, but only by the steering committee, not by the membership. They betrayed the SMRR members..

Nov. 20, 2012, 3:34:30 am

Jack Doner said...

I agree

Nov. 20, 2012, 5:18:20 am

Jonathan Mann said...

This is NOT democracy; the city council is the gang of seven and should be prosecuted as criminals. At the very least they should all be recalled from office for what they have done to our city!

Nov. 20, 2012, 6:04:10 am

Henry Hall said...

Ron, nicely stated. What can be done to stem this madness. Our city council seem to be hopelessly ignorant and destroying what little livability is left here in Santa Monica. I thought THEY were supposed to represent US and not just MONEY. Can we the people who live here stop this ridiculous project. Can we take legal action against the our city council's ignorance and inability to represent the population of Santa Monica?

Nov. 20, 2012, 6:33:47 am

susan grant said...

This letter is very informative. Thank you for writing it. The council members who voted for this should be ousted. Council was asked to wait on voting - yet they rushed it through. Can this project be halted?

Nov. 20, 2012, 8:16:48 am

mangeleno said...

When will the voters of Santa Monica stop being suckers for the SMRR Machine? The cabal that is the SMRR Steering Committee has a long history of chicanery,; self-dealing; questionable ethics and outright feather-bedding that would make a Chicago alderman blush! When things don't go the way the Steering Committee wants them to, matters get decided in camera on an "emergency basis" which does not require a vote of the members! When a bunch of crooks effectively appoints a City Council, why does anyone expect good government to result? This explains why "our" City Council has never met a development project that they did not like! SAMO - the finest government money can buy!

Nov. 20, 2012, 10:32:57 am

Leslee Mickshaw said...

Coucil Member McKeown and Davis, I commend your voting against this project. Terry O'Day, I'm sorry I voted for you to return to council. The rest I expected were voting for this project. I'd like to know why? How are you benefiting from this? Im sorry for all those that live near this soon to be monstrosity ! My Mom is one of them. Is there still a fight to be had? If so, I'm the first in line! What a travesty this is!

Nov. 21, 2012, 3:22:37 am

Bob Seldon said...

Leslee, please email me your email address. I was a candidate for City Council, and am sincerely interested in why you voted for Terry and are now surprised. I'm trying to figure out where it is all going wrong. If you are interested in the dialog, please send your adr to: seldon at speakeasy dot net

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