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Planning Board Gives NARAS Some Elbow Room:

Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a text amendment and a variance on January 17 so that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), located at 3402 Pico Boulevard, could obtain additional office space.

NARAS is located in both the C2 and R2 zones of the City and is on a 58,872 square foot lot. The office space will be created by converting approximately 7,492 square feet of ground floor parking area into usable office space.  Wayne Zanner, Chief Financial Officer of NARAS, told the Commission the “much needed office and storage space is needed for our existing staff so we can maintain our headquarters in Santa Monica.”

In order for this to be done, a text amendment had to be approved to permit ground floor office space within 150 feet of Pico Boulevard because currently this is not permitted in the C2 districts in the City.  Other City C2 districts are Montana Avenue and Ocean Park Boulevard.  A variance was also necessary since the space conversion will ultimately reduce the number of parking spaces on the ground floor and create a requirement for more spaces. The variance will permit 143 spaces instead of the required 152.  The project will include the reconfiguration of the existing parking to include 11 tandem spaces, more compact spaces and 76 off-site parking spaces.

Those from the community who spoke to the Commission were very supportive.  The President of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, architect Ralph Mechur, mentioned the support NARAS has provided to the school district and the community. He also pointed out that the proposed project is a “sound reasonable solution to create some much needed workspace” without having their site grow.

Jim Lynch, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, echoed Mechur by stating it’s an “advantage to have companies like this in our City.”

 The only reservation that was expressed by Commissioner Jay Johnson and others was “a concern about the text amendment and its application in the City and where else in the City it would apply.” City Principal Planner Amanda Schachter quieted his concerns: “I don’t have specific addresses for you, but it really has very limited application.  It’s unusual in terms of the particular design of this property.”

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