Dear City Council,
In the 18 months that we (SMCLC) have followed land-use issues in Santa Monica, we have never heard a resident express a desire for more market rate condos, green or otherwise.
In fact, we have heard the opposite time and time again: that what residents fear is the further elimination of our apartment stock and the irreplaceable loss of diversity in our city – the loss of neighbors who will be evicted or replaced by high-end condo commuters and much bigger buildings.
So we were both shocked and dismayed at the turn of events at last week’s city council meeting when market rate condos were added to the list of preferred uses, entitling developers to maximize development of their project if they elect to make it “green” (Gold LEED standard).
We believe this in no way represents any community consensus. Every community group who went on record asked you not to treat LEED as a preference because of the view that condo developers do not need incentives in Santa Monica and “greenwashing” (i.e., building the condos but then failing to get the environmental certification) also could occur.
If you do this, you are telling the residents of this city that you really do not believe the values you claim to hold dear – that we need work force housing and housing for low and moderate income residents. Instead, you are saying, as long as developers can make a profit building “green” market rate housing (which they can) – buy whatever land and apartment properties they need. There is no amount of affordable housing this city can ever generate to recoup what has been (and will be) lost.
This will be the alarming consequence of your deliberations over the potential negative impacts of Prop. 90. Whatever impacts occur from Prop. 90, they will not, in our judgment, be as pernicious to the diversity and existing affordable housing stock of our city as what you tentatively adopted last week.
We urge you to reconsider this fundamentally ill-advised move.
Residents are very concerned that our downtown is being overbuilt and that additional commercial development yields far too few public benefits and three times the adverse traffic impacts of residential development. Residents want our city’s commercial rate of growth slowed so that Santa Monica remains accessible to the residents who live here.
For these reasons, we urge you to adopt similar reduced development standards that decrease the height limits and the floor area ratios (FAR) in these key, overlooked commercial areas so that Santa Monica’s current scale and character are protected.
CHARLES AND HELEN HEWITT
DALE AND ROY SHULTS
HELEN AND ANTHONY SPAULDING
SONIA AND BRUCE SULTAN