With a 5 to 2 vote, Santa Monica’s City Council authorized The Related Companies of California to apply for a Development Agreement (DA) to develop the residential Village component of the Civic Center.
According to the City staff report, the Village will include “approximately 325 residences (affordable family housing, mixed-use and live-work), public open space and neighborhood-serving retail services.” A Development Agreement is necessary because the proposed height of the buildings is much higher than the City’s zoning code limit of 56 feet. In such cases, a developer must offer public benefits to build a project as part of a Development Agreement with the City.
The public benefits being offered in this case are 160 affordable residences, nearly 50 percent of the total residences; public open space, including a public plaza connecting with the future Palisades Garden Walk park and a pedestrian-only walk-street through the site; extension of Olympic Drive from Main Street to Ocean Avenue; integrated public art; and sustainable design elements.
At the August 14 meeting, Councilmember Bobby Shriver voted against the DA because of the proposed height of the project, noting he had received “widespread input” from residents that they do not want to see any greater height in the City.
Also voting “no” due to the building heights was Councilmember Robert Holbrook, who said, “My primary concern was potentially allowing height 40 feet higher than zoning allows on Ocean Avenue.”
Most of the public input heard at the meeting favored the project, particularly because of the affordable housing component. Former City Council candidate Abby Arnold said the project “has been in the planning stages for a long time. During that time the population of Santa Monica has actually decreased…and the availability of affordable housing has significantly decreased.”
There was also some opposition to the project. Ocean Park resident Stephanie Barbinol, who was a member of the original Civic Center Advisory Committee, stated the “mass and scale of this project is not in keeping with the committee’s vision for the area. Shame on you for thinking this is a good idea”
The Council also made the following board and commission appointments:
Architectural Review Board – Edouard Mimieux
Arts Commission – Frederick Dewey, Rebecca Jewell Holbrook
Bayside District Corporation – Barbara Bryan, Johannes Van Tilburg and Kelley Wallace
Commission on the Status of Women – Heather Briggs and Elizabeth Riel
Disabilities Commission – Glenda Berg and Richard Hilton
Housing Commission – Lewis Steele and Allan Tainsky
Kelley Wallace Commission for the Senior Community – Al Weintraub
Planning Commission – Gleam Davis, Terry O’Day and Jim Ries
Recreation and Parks Commission – Neil Carrey
Social Services Commission – Brian Buchner and Marcia Ann Fierro