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Development, Opinion, Letters To The Editor, Santa Monica

Letter To The Editor: Bergamot Transit “Travesty” - And How We Can Stop It

Posted Mar. 4, 2014, 9:33 am

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

After the approval of the “Hines Bergamot Transit Village” (BTV) by the City Council a few weeks ago, many residents are still scratching their heads.

Hines did their job: maximize profits for their investors. Four members of the Council, however, failed to do theirs: create a Development Agreement (DA) that insures the project’s completion, compatibility with the City’s fabric and its ability to mitigate the traffic it will generate.

If built as designed, the new Hines Project will have a net area of 765,905 sq., reach over 85’ in height and cover nearly three football fields.

At the meeting where the final approval was given, Council members seemed resigned to the project as the only viable alternative. Why?

In fact, there are many other options, all of them better than a project that will generate an additional 7,000 new car trips daily in our already congested city and strain our precious water resources at a time of drought.

The alternatives range from lower scale projects with less density to the adaptive reuse of the existing Paper Mate structure. An adaptive re-use project could be completed “in one go” and would bear the closest resemblance to the dynamic “Village” atmosphere envisioned by the LUCE. 

To describe the current BTV project as a “Village” is a joke.

If Hines were to complete only the large office structure (33% of the entire project), perhaps Bergamot Transit “Travesty” would be a better name for the Building that will not include ANY housing and will generate the MOST traffic. 

The fact that this building will also be the most profitable could reduce Hine’s incentive to complete the remainder of the project. After they have their office building, the promised housing and Community Benefits might never materialize.  

In a worst-case scenario, the community would be left looking at a large office building adjacent to a vacant lot and/or abandoned Paper Mate building for up to ten years… if no one steps up to complete the project. Are there any penalties or clauses that might prevent this from happening? No.

In fact, Hines has already written into their Agreement with the City that they are under no obligation to build anything further and will suffer no penalties it they decide not to do so.  

As it stands, Hines is getting everything upfront while the residents will be left with massive traffic and no assurances that they will ever get additional housing or community benefits.  

This is NOT a good deal for the residents of Santa Monica… and they are understandably upset by the City’s enthusiasm for a project that will increase the tax base but could forever change the City in the process.

What are the options for those who still oppose this ill-conceived project? 

There is only one -- pass a Referendum by signing a petition that would annul the current Agreement or put it to a citywide vote. There are 30 more developers with similar projects in the wings waiting to see if the residents will be successful with this Herculean task.

If we fail the, floodgates could open. If we succeed, we will have regained our voice to shape the City’s future.

We urge all residents to FIND ONE OF THE MANY PETITIONS BEING CIRCULATED and SIGN IT! For more information visit

SMa.r.t.  (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)

Thane Roberts AIA, Architect

Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect

Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA

Robert H. Taylor AIA

Daniel Jansenson, Architect

Armen Melkonians, Civil and Environmental Engineer

Phil Brock, Recreation & Parks Commission

Post a comment


Mar. 4, 2014, 4:16:54 pm

Roger said...

No one is scratching their heads except a few frustrated, bored, old people who want to control the city to shape into the garbage the love living in. I hope this awesome project goes thru and all the old folks shut up once and for all.

Mar. 5, 2014, 5:00:48 pm

Marcus Chenoweth said...

Roger aka Developer Troll, I am 29, professional with an advanced degree and I pay a premium to live in Santa Monica. I am exactly the demographic Santa Monica wants to attract and keep and I am AGAINST this and other enormous, traffic congesting projects. The only people who support these developments are the very people who stand to benefit from them.

Mar. 5, 2014, 6:46:21 pm

Pete said...

Marcus Chenoweth - This is the main problem I'm having with your campaign to stop this project. Most of you keep disparaging good people with personal attacks and irresponsible allegation of corruption and greed. YOU HAVE NO IDEA who or what Roger does for a living. Nor do any of you have any evidence whatsoever that the City Council member who voted for this project are in any way corrupt. I talked with 3 different signature gatherers today and all of them we lacking facts regarding the project itself, but had lots to say about how corrupt the Council is with absolutely no facts to back it up. Could it be that reasonable people might disagree? This campaign is quickly developing into Santa Monica's own little Tea Party of misinformation and birther-like allegations of corruption. These are your neighbors! Just because you don't agree with them doesn't give you the right to make personal attacks. FWIW: Roger, you could have been far less snarky too.

Mar. 7, 2014, 4:13:41 pm

Sliverlake said...

I personally think ALL Santa Monicans deserve one another. Enjoy your F-rated beach. I suggest going for a swim.

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