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Planning Board Greenlights Civic Center Village Project:

After a lengthy public hearing, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the required documents so the Civic Center Residential Village Project, which has been in the planning stage for several years, can move forward.

The mixed-use Village will contain 324 residences, 11,900 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail, including a restaurant, and 21,619 square feet of public open space. The sustainable design will also contain public art and a mixture of housing types, including market rate condos, affordable apartments, and artist live/work studios. The Village will be comprised of five buildings on three separate sites with heights ranging from 56 feet to 96 feet. The guiding values and development strategies used to develop the conceptual design were derived from the City’s Civic Center Specific Plan.

Commission members voted to approve the Development Agreement (DA), but also made recommendations for the City Council to consider during their review of the DA. The Commission suggested that literature about the Traffic Demand Management Program, which aims to reduce car trips, be given to Santa Monica workers, and that a detailed analysis on parking needs be conducted, including the idea of sharing parking between Village residents and retail stores/restaurants. They also called for further study on how the unbundling of parking would work for the market rate condos. (Unbundling of parking is when units are sold without parking spaces.) Lastly, the Commission requested maximizing the use of renewable energy on the project, specifically solar energy, and requiring a deed restriction for the affordable housing units.

The only member of the community who spoke was Arthur Harris. He told the Commission, “This project is much improved” but “it isn’t ready. It has aroused the opposition of so many people in the community because of the density, the mass. It is just too much in too small a space. It does not appeal to the desires of the people of this City.”

Harris also objected to the Commission approving a DA when negotiations were still going on with the developer on the sustainable transportation aspects, on how much solar energy would be produced by the project’s photovoltaic cells, and the nighttime hours that the public would be allowed to use the project’s Living Street.

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