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A rendering of the mixed-used Hines project at 1681 26th Street that will total 765,095 square feet of housing, creative office space, and restaurant and retail space.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of the mixed-used Hines project at 1681 26th Street that will total 765,095 square feet of housing, creative office space, and restaurant and retail space.

News, City Council, Development, Santa Monica

Split City Council Approves Hines Development; Referendum Possible

Posted Feb. 5, 2014, 9:05 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Despite a 300-person rally in front of Santa Monica City Hall urging council members to vote “no” on a proposed mixed-use development dramatically altering the Bergamot Station area, the Santa Monica City Council narrowly approved Tuesday night a slightly modified development agreement (DA) to allow Hines 26th Street LLC to bring a five-building commercial, creative, and residential space to the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

Council members approved the mixed-used development not only a few hours after the rally protesting the project, but also one week after a vast majority of speakers during public testimony that urged council members to balk at a project potentially adding about 765,000 square feet of building.

When the dust finally settled from last week’s public testimony, a full council began deliberating whether or not to move forward with the Hines DA.

Looming over the impending council vote was the possibility of a referendum to challenge a potentially approved DA.

Indeed, council member Gleam Davis did ask City staff what would happen in the event her and her colleagues did not approve the project. City staff replied Hines would be able to lease out the building currently sitting on the Papermate lot to commercial tenants.

However, with the DA formally approved this week, Hines is now allowed to tear down the former Papermate building and erect the five planned buildings to accommodate commercial, creative, and residential tenants.

It took nearly six hours of council deliberation and City staff negotiating with the developer to ultimately come to a 4-to-3 vote in favor of the project. The "yes" votes were Mayor Pam O'Connor, Pro Tem Terry O'Day, Bob Holbrook, and Gleam Davis. Council members Kevin McKeown, Tony Vazquez, and Ted Winterer were the three “no” votes.

Prior to the vote, council members asked City staff questions about the proposed project.

McKeown, for example, expressed concern a parcel map was not attached to the project.

Vazquez stated the number of affordable housing was not enough; he was also wary of allowing too much office space on site.

Both Davis and O’Day pondered what the alternative project would be if the proposed Hines DA did not go forward and how that would impact the current street network.

O’Day was also concerned with the potential overbuilding of parking.

Meanwhile, Winterer was concerned about water demand, building heights, and the potential of traffic back up on Olympic to get into parking.

After the question-and-answer session was over, a few council members seemed to be general agreement to scale back some of the commercial units and increase the number of residential units.

McKeown believed making the Hines project almost 100 percent residential would help ease traffic in the area. Accordingly, McKeown proposed to limit commercial tenancy to just the first floor, with the remainder of the units on floors two and up be dedicated to residences.

Davis, O’Day, Vazquez, and Winterer were all open to considering more housing over commercial units, but not all of them were on board with McKeown’s proposal.

Mayor Pam O’Connor, who joined Davis, O’Day, and council member Bob Holbrook in opposing McKeown’s proposal, said 82 percent of Santa Monicans leave the City for work into other regions or neighborhoods.

O’Connor also cited population statistics, saying Santa Monica is roughly the same size now as it was about 30 years ago. However, Los Angeles, as a City and a County, dramatically grew in the same time period, meaning Santa Monica’s neighbor on all three sides has more to do with traffic increases than the Hines project.

She also added every project in Santa Monica would collectively meet the Net No New Trips goal of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) even if individual projects actually have a net gain.

“Even if we don’t grow in Santa Monica, there is still growth around us,” Davis added.

Trying to find a sensible solution, Winterer proposed City staff look into option of having at least one residential building built before or simultaneously to commercial building. The project would still be the same size but with housing being a priority.

However, the motion failed 5-to-2, with only Vazquez and Winterer voting in support.

Finally, Davis moved to approve project as recommended but with an adjustment to the affordable housing schedule by eliminating units allocated to the 180 percent of average median income category (AMI) and merging that category with 150 percent AMI; the remaining categories were shifted to the next category down, respectively.

Also included in the motion: ensuring advanced marketing for available units would target first responders, nurses, teachers, and the like; and, require the average vehicle ridership for the creative office space be 2.0.

Davis had originally proposed in her motion to reduce commercial space by more than 42,000 square feet to make the project an even split between commercial and residential units, but later rescinded the line item,

City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie said the motion could not initially call for an approval since her proposal altered the project enough to require changes to the documentation.

Accordingly, the council voted 4-to-3 to make the motion as a direction to City staff. That voted was logged at 9:55 pm. Instead of calling it an evening, the council agreed to take a break so City staff could iron out the necessary paperwork and come back to the dais later in the evening with the suggested changes.

McKeown, Vazquez, and Winterer voted against the City staff direction.

The meeting resumed at midnight, with a 4-to-3 majority validating the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), another 4-to-3 vote approving a mitigation monitoring program, and a third 4-to-3 tally approving the altered DA.

As the meeting was coming to a close, Vazquez asked about the potential of a referendum. If a referendum were to occur and be successful, the council’s decision could potentially be overturned and the developer would be allowed to lease portions of the current structure on site to commercial tenants.

More in-depth coverage of both the Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 meetings on this project will be provided over the course of the next week, including details of how a referendum is possible.

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Comments

Feb. 5, 2014, 10:08:52 am

Adam R said...

The (small) majority of the city council just showed their contempt for the wishes of the large majority of the residents of this city. Apparently 300 angry citizens showing up on their doorstep meant nothing to them. (When was the last time that 300 people showed up at a council meeting?) I will personally be out collecting petition signatures for referendum to overturn their misguided decision to bow to the wishes of an out of state billionaire developer. My goal is to collect at least 50. I hope every other Santa Monica citizen who is concerned about over development will make an effort to collect at least 10 petition signatures.

Feb. 5, 2014, 10:38:57 am

Jerry Knuth said...

if the city council members were elected based on representing each neighborhood I wonder if the out come would have been much different. Perhaps the city elections should be changed so that one council member represents each neighborhood - Mid City, Pico, North East, NOMA, Sunset Park, Ocean Park, beach/northwest. Could this be put on a referendum/ballot initiative?

Feb. 5, 2014, 10:44:03 am

This doesn't end here said...

It's time to investigate Mayor Pam O'Connor, Terry O'Day, Bob Holbrook, and Gleam Davis to see if any corruption is going on. I think we have another situation like the city of Bell did where their politicians were taking bribes. They think this is Washington DC but they don't realize that a much smaller group of citizens can vote them out of office. If there is corruption then criminal charges should be filed against all of them.

Feb. 5, 2014, 10:46:53 am

Nancy T said...

Just like all politicians that follow the money and not the people. They feel invincible and drunk with power. But they live in a small town and they will have to look the voters in the eye. I suspect a regime change is coming and they may be too arrogant to even see it.

Feb. 5, 2014, 10:51:53 am

NAME OF THE DAY said...

O'Connor and O'Day have always been in developer's pockets - Holbrook and Davis are simply dense. I'll be signing the petition and contributing to the campaign.

Feb. 5, 2014, 11:22:29 am

Gabestepa said...

Santa Monica is worst than the city of Bell . The residents here just live here but the out of state developers are the ones who run the city and the council . The are the terrorist of our beautiful city that day by day looks like a cloged drain

Feb. 5, 2014, 12:07:28 pm

Mark W said...

This is a great outcome for the city of Santa Monica. This project will liven up the city and open up the Bergamot Area while also bringing in a large amount of community benefits. The alternative of re-occupation would cause too much traffic and this could go a long way to prevent Santa Monica from continuing to lose businesses and employment to neighboring cities. It's pretty ridiculous that in these times McKeown was complaining about having too many jobs in Santa Monica. I'm sure the majority of people in Santa Monica can agree and are in support of this project.

Feb. 5, 2014, 12:29:51 pm

JohnR said...

We need an old delapdated factory, not a beautiful new mixed use development directly across the street for newly installed mass transit. When will the city coucil get it! The aged and decrepit rent controlled tenants demand that the entire city slowly decay just like their lonely lives.

Feb. 5, 2014, 12:37:43 pm

Mary Nogalles said...

How come last night's city council meeting was not broadcast on KCRW like it usually is?

Feb. 5, 2014, 1:28:26 pm

bill fields said...

I am a long time resident, this place is becoming a hellhole to live in. Not only will I not be able to go downtown because of traffic but now I won't even be able to leave the damn city. THANKS A LOT......

Feb. 5, 2014, 1:39:29 pm

Voice of Reason said...

Since when did 300 angry people become a majority of Santa Monica Residents?

Feb. 5, 2014, 1:39:51 pm

Lester said...

Fantastic news! The city of Santa Monica is really growing into a world class city. - and it only takes a few minutes to bike across!

Feb. 5, 2014, 2:17:20 pm

Jill said...

Does anyone know where there is a hardware store or a place you can buy clothes if you wear anything above size 6 in this great city?. I live on Ocean Park Blvd. and if I see one bike rider using the great cycle path that is unusual most days like today it is zero. And my pet peeve at the Fairview branch library is the free parking given to city employees. One who actually accosted me when I parked in one of their " employee only" parking places as I made a minute trip to a mail box which is like finding gold in the Klondike. There is no record of great cities being built. Great Cities evolve.

Feb. 5, 2014, 2:44:48 pm

BillS said...

PLEASE vote out Mayor Pam O'Connor, Pro Tem Terry O'Day, Bob Holbrook, and Gleam Davis. Their arrogance and disregard of their constituents is breathtaking.

Feb. 5, 2014, 3:21:59 pm

D'Lynn Waldron said...

The Brown Act may have been violated when when the video stream of the first part of the Council session stopped and community notices came on, with no notice that the Council session would resume, and that the continuation of the Council session would be streamed live - if it ever was. And this was with the critical final vote on approving the Hines development. D'Lynn Waldron

Feb. 5, 2014, 3:51:44 pm

SMNative said...

I'm a SM native and I can nolonger afford to live in SM. I'm not wealthy but I'm not in poverty either. This over-development has lead me to not be able to live in the same city that I grew up in. The same area in which the schools I attended, the fields I played on, the places where I took part in community volunteer programs. I lived, loved and gave back to my community. But now I'm shunned because I can't afford a $2500/mo apt. Or to live in a 2 million dollar home. Diversity was always a huge part of SM, both ethnically as well as economically. The Gentrification of Santa Monica as well as the abomination of low to middle income has also been eliminated from the city. I've applied to try get the one or two allotted apts that are designated for "low-income" housing. First, none of these apts actually end up going to the people who actually need or qualify for it. They go to reletives or friends of either the developers or management companies. Many are occupied by students who on paper dont have any money so yes their income falls in the qualification stature, however heir parents are reletives of somoen in the mnow and actually are making 200k/year and paying for their kid and benefitting from the "low-income" staus of their children. I guess making approx 50k/year is way too much to be low-income but not nearly enough to actually live in this city. I wish that i had a vote, because i would do my part in making sure none of those council member as well as Mayor O'Connor are not re-elected. Remember who was part of this Decaying of SM when you go to vote at the next election and Governatorial candidate Shriver, don't think I forgot what you did to the city of SM, I'll remember in the voting booth!

Feb. 5, 2014, 4:19:12 pm

residocracy.org said...

Put Pam and her chronies in their place: Sign the petitions at: residocracy.org

Feb. 5, 2014, 5:01:56 pm

Lori Nafshun said...

When the People lead, the Politicians will eventually follow…. Bring on the referendum!

Feb. 5, 2014, 7:06:33 pm

Mark Sandelson said...

If over 70-% of those asked were against this project then it seems time for the process to move forward with referendums and recalls. Meanwhile none of the councilman use the a Cloverfield off ramo and so have no idea of size of the traffic issue. Also where are the new schools being built for the resident increases.

Feb. 5, 2014, 8:03:35 pm

Eve said...

I'm glad they aren't allowing it to be developed as the old Papermate building, and all the angry people need to calm down. Change is coming: you may not like this project, but you all need to get your heads out of the sand and offer constructive criticism rather than nimby ultimatums. For all of you who talk of a referendum: does wasting public money on unfounded witch hunts -- you need to move on.

Feb. 5, 2014, 8:08:16 pm

Claire said...

I bet if someone did a demographic study of the people opposed to the Hines development and development in general in SM, they would find that most of the no-growthers were born between the years of 1946-1964. Baby boomers love their cars, and wanna kill anyone trying to get them out of them!

Feb. 6, 2014, 12:44:26 am

Get out of here PR trolls said...

Ah the developer's PR trolls are out in full force trying to sway public opinion because they KNOW they bought the Mayor and council with bribes. Now everyone is going to find out and they're afraid they won't be able to keep duping Santa Monicans. By the way I am under 30.

Feb. 10, 2014, 7:59:01 pm

steve k said...

better hope for teleportation to show up soon, because hines is only one of the huge projects to inflict itself on the pico neighborhood. others include-smc stewart campus undergoing construction. it will have a larger parking structure, auditorium, etc. village trailer park on colorado is a 341,000 square foot mixed use project. element l.a. on both olympic and bundy is 284,000 square feet, and martin cadillac is proposing 807,000 square feet of mixed use development. if you can handle more pain, look up the proposed casden project on pico and sepulveda with 600 homes proposed. plan on coming up with a home business and growing your own food.

Feb. 10, 2014, 8:48:03 pm

ed said...

time for this place to grow up. NIMBY's will always be in denial that they live in an urban city, not a small-time suburb. This is good news for santa monica. Traffic will always be there and NIMBY farts need to accept the obvious or move. Urban living involves finding alternatives to driving each time you want to buy a carton of milk. Get with the times, or move to Coto de Caza if that's what you're looking for.

Feb. 10, 2014, 8:53:06 pm

mike said...

I can't wait for these old-timers to move to Scottsdale and take their obsolescent polluting lifestyles with them.

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