After a four-hour hearing, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission voted unanimously to delay its decision on an appeal from the Architectural Review Board’s (ARB) approval of a new senior housing facility for 749 Montana Avenue. The proposed two-story project includes 17 units designed for senior independent living and 19 subterranean parking spaces.
The owner of the project, Charles Rosenbleet, told the Commission his goal in designing the project was to create an independent living facility for seniors with “multiple uses and an intimate home-like atmosphere.”
The ARB approved the project on July 21; part of their approval included the condition that the owner “refines certain portions of the project through building design and landscaping enhancements.” The Montana Neighborhood Coalition and resident Ron Goldman then filed an appeal on July 31, voicing concerns about neighborhood compatibility, environmental issues, and transportation-related design issues.
The owner’s lawyer at the September 17 meeting told the Planning Commission that the project was designed for the “health, general welfare, and safety of this community and City,” but appellant Goldman disagreed. He noted in his remarks that he believes the design of the project’s driveway and drop-off and pick-up areas would create unsafe traffic and parking conditions in an area that is already prone to traffic and parking problems. He also claimed that the project’s size and scale was incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood and that the design does not meet the guidelines of the City’s General Plan or zoning codes.
ARB Chair Michael Folonis defended his board’s approval of the project by stating, “One couldn’t find a better site in Santa Monica” for a senior housing project.
The Commission also heard from the community, and many were opposed to the project. North of Montana resident Bruce Warner summed up the community opposition when he stated that the project has obvious safety issues and is “another example of a City plan” that causes accidents on Montana.
Those community members who spoke in a favor of the project made remarks similar to Peter Cohen’s statement that this is a “great location for a project like this.”
City staff recommended that the Commission deny the appeal, but the Commission decided to delay its decision and asked the applicant to come back with a plan addressing its concerns: modifying the project’s driveway, improving the project’s pick-up and drop-off points, improving the project’s façade, providing more details as to where air-conditioning units would be located, and whether additional environmental study is needed under state law.