After a long public hearing, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission voted unanimously so that a four-unit condominium project that includes a City landmark-designated turn-of-the-century Victorian cottage can be constructed at 1012 Second Street by 1012 2nd Street LLC.The City staff report states, “The design for the proposed new construction consists of a four-story (43’ 8”) structure. Unit 1 is comprised of the 886 square foot historic cottage plus a 957 square foot addition with an enclosed breezeway connecting the cottage to a portion of the first story of the new structure (1,843 SF total); unit 2 is located on the first and second stories (split level); unit 3 is located exclusively on the third story; and unit 4 is located exclusively on the fourth story. A subterranean garage with eight parking spaces is proposed beneath the new construction with vehicular access provided from 1st Court alley.”At their February 18 meeting, the Commission’s approval included variances from the City development standards that were established for projects like this that preserve designated historic landmarks. The variances were 1) to allow a building height of 43’ 8” where a maximum 40’ 0” is permitted; 2) to construct four stories where a maximum of three stories is permitted; 3) to allow for additional building volume above 35 feet in height; 4) to increase maximum parcel coverage above the third story; 5) to reduce the rear yard setback requirement by 1’ 6”; 6) to provide less than the required additional two-foot average side yard setback in excess of the minimum 8’ 0” requirement; and 7) to reduce the amount of unexcavated side yard for development of the subterranean parking garage. The Commission’s approval of the variances was the subject of many of the community’s objections to the project. Project neighbor Ron Burkhardt told the Commission the approval of the project’s variances would be setting a precedent that “would impact other developers going forward.” Other project neighbors including Regina Arons objected to the project’s height. Concerns were also expressed about the project’s shadowing effect on nearby buildings and that the project’s neighbors didn’t receive adequate notice about public meetings regarding the project. Some asked the Commission’s decision be delayed 30 days so they had more time to review the project’s details. Not everyone in the community was against the project. Michel Balore who lives north of Montana Avenue felt the project should be approved in order to help get the City’s economy moving, while Adam Nejad thought it would add value to its neighborhood. Commission members felt differently than most of those who gave public input. Commission Vice Chair Hank Koning like his colleagues felt the “design works to preserve the building.” Commissioner Jay Johnson expressed his support for the project by stating the variances were needed to preserve the cottage. Commissioner Gywnne Pugh noted the project “adds to the City’s texture.”
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