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Planning Board Approves Controversial Condo Project:

Santa Monica’s Planning Commission approved a 16-unit market rate condo project at 1940-44 Cloverfield Boulevard that was denied in July 2006. 

Originally, Commission members rejected the project because, according to the City staff report, they “deadlocked on a vote to adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations [SOC].”  This SOC became necessary because the Environmental Impact Report for the project found it would have unavoidable traffic impacts on Virginia Avenue between Cloverfield Boulevard and 20th Street.  The Commission’s denial in 2006 was then appealed to the City Council by the project’s developer, Torkian Construction.  The Council decided at that time to approve both the SOC and the project’s Final Environmental Impact Report.  However, they decided that the other necessary approvals needed for the project to go forward – the Development Review Permit and the Tentative Tract Map – should be given by the Planning Commission.

The project will consist of a two-story (30-foot high), 25,001-square-foot, 16-unit complex with a 35-space subterranean parking garage on a 25,300-square-foot site.  The site’s current structures, eight rent-controlled, single story detached apartments and garages, will be demolished.

Two Commissioners voted against the project once again, despite the fact that the developer made revisions to the project to help address the concerns of the Commission, the Council, and the public during prior project reviews.  Commissioner Jay Johnson justified his “no” vote because he has “difficulty with the traffic analysis” and the lack of available traffic mitigations.  He also was concerned that the “building was not contiguous with the neighborhood.”

Commissioner Julie Lopez Dad voted against approving the project because “on so many levels, I’m not satisfied with the design and how it relates to the community it will be built in.”

The Commission also heard from the community.  Pico Neighborhood Association board member Katherine Eldridge told the Commission the “key issue is the location” because the project will add to the congestion already existing at Virginia Avenue and Cloverfield Boulevard.

Lawrence Premo, who lives right next to the project site, was concerned that eight “low-income properties” would be removed to make way for the project and that the project’s “scale” was not compatible with the neighborhood.  His wife, Penny Premo, was concerned that the project would cause her building to “lose parking.”

The City’s Architectural Review Board will now review the project.

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