I am curious if other people out there are as frustrated by the crows in Santa Monica as we are. There seem to be thousands of them that line the trees and power lines around our neighborhood, in Sunset Park. They are infuriating when they caw, waking our house up generally ‘round 3 a.m., and then their morning wake up call between 5-6 a.m. Waking our small children who have a difficult time going back to sleep is the worst part. Not to mention the disgusting poop everywhere around our house and cars. They are filthy, noisy, annoying creatures, and when I called the Santa Monica Animal Control, of course, “there is nothing to be done.” When you spend the amount you do for property here, to find that you can’t sleep or keep your property free of poop, it is more than frustrating.
On another note, they can be very aggressive at the parks as well, getting into your bags, and when you try to shoo them off, they turn and have a stand off with you.
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The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City sent the following letter to the City Council, Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board and others.
Over the past two decades, Santa Monica residents have been staunch supporters of preserving and creating affordable housing in our city. At the same time, under your leadership, our city has aggressively implemented, and even exceeded, the affordable housing goals expressed in Proposition “R”, adopted by Santa Monica voters in 1990. According to a recent city report, 769 affordable housing units, representing 37 percent of the total 2,089 units have been constructed from 1994 to 2005.
The City Council now has before it a proposal to adopt an ordinance which will permanently exempt 100 percent affordable housing projects of 50 units or less from public review by eliminating development review or conditional use permits in multi-family districts and enumerated commercial districts respectively.
SMCLC believes eliminating public review would be a mistake. As supporters of affordable housing, SMCLC is concerned that the lack of reviewed public input will erode support for it.
Public review of any large development which impacts a neighborhood is a vital part of the planning process. Public review is important so that Santa Monica residents will (1) have confidence in the planning process; (2) understand what goals are being met; (3) have full disclosure of the possible tradeoffs of such a project, e.g., size, scale, use (including neighborhood serving businesses), location, traffic, parking; and (4) have a meaningful opportunity to have their concerns heard and addressed.
Because we support affordable housing, we are concerned that if local residents are not allowed meaningful input into these developments, our city runs the risk that residents will come to view these projects as one more way in which developers are unfairly favored over residents.
Additionally, the lack of public review can lead to a process that results in poorly conceived projects. The staff report to the planning commission recognized that residents “overwhelmingly” do not support being disenfranchised from zoning planning review by this ordinance on such a key community issue, and disenfranchising residents is clearly at odds with residents’ goals of greater community involvement in future land-use decisions, as expressed in our ongoing LUCE update process.
Two arguments have been advanced against public review. The first is that it could slow down the planning process which, in turn, could jeopardize a project’s funding. But the intricate funding for these projects is already in place by the time the approval process commences and the process is already expedited to enable them to be built quickly, so there is no credible reason why public review cannot be part of an expedited schedule.
The second argument is that a discretionary review process might make a project more vulnerable to lawsuits, thereby killing the project. However, in the history of Santa Monica, to our knowledge, only one lawsuit has even been filed to stop an affordable housing project. The concern about this extremely rare occurrence should not be used to trump the public’s right of review.
To enact an ordinance that permanently eliminates public input and development review is not in the public interest. Further, by the time the project is before the Architectural Review Board solely for design review, public input is irrelevant as to many of the very issues that residents want to have considered, frustrating the board and the public alike.
For these reasons, SMCLC urges the Council not to adopt this ordinance and to ensure that the public has the right to be heard on affordable housing projects of 50 units or less in multi-family and commercial districts.
SMCLC Board and Advisers
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Friends of Sunset Park sent the following letter to the City Council, Mayor Bloom and City Manager P. Lamont Ewell.
Friends of Sunset Park is concerned about the nature and size of the proposed Public Safety Storage Facility next to one of our residential neighborhoods. Because the facility is proposed for Airport land, it seems the fact that this project is really in a residential neighborhood is being ignored. It is unacceptable to skip the normal, thorough City evaluation process for a project of this size (21,000 sq. ft.), even if it is a City facility. Would such a facility be allowed in any other residential neighborhood in the City?
The project appears to have been designed as if it were to be inside a City Yard, but it is not. It is visible from our homes and from Clover Park. The mixing of the Airport facilities (with all its smaller trucks), the Fire Department building (with all its larger trucks) and the storage of all the emergency supplies is creating what seems to be a huge facility.
We are also concerned that once a jointly shared facility, such as this, is placed on the edge of a residential neighborhood that it could morph into an even larger main Fire Department facility, or could become a cluster of City operations buildings. That’s fine in an industrial area, but this is a neighborhood.
Mitigations promised are vague, yet the Negative Declaration is moving forward on schedule. We have heard that the cost of promised landscaping could exceed that of the building, but at the same time we hear that there is a limited budget for the building itself. We are skeptical. We are concerned this project is being rushed through the process.
We are the only Santa Monica residents affected by the noise and fumes of Airport operations. We should be provided a proper buffer, not metal industrial buildings. We support the Fire Department’s needs, but can’t we give them some budget for a proper design team to create an appropriate building? Isn’t there a better location, buffered from the residential neighborhood, for Airport maintenance?
The FOSP Board agrees with the Airport Commission’s resolution, and we respectfully urge a new look at the program, planning and design of this project. We would be happy to be part of a thorough process that takes adequate time to listen to the community and balance our concerns with the needs of our Fire Department and other City operations.
Zina Josephs, President
(on behalf of the Board of Directors)
Friends of Sunset Park