May 6, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

City Hall: Roof Changes Up In the Air:

New air conditioning equipment will soon be installed on the roof of Santa Monica’s historic City Hall. But the Landmarks Commission at its August 10 meeting, postponed granting a Certificate of Appropriateness for the planned installation, pending changes to insure that the project won’t affect the character of City Hall.

The installation consists of nine air conditioning condensers and chiller equipment, positioned on platforms of eight inch high concrete curbing. To conceal them from street view, the City plans to surround the platforms with an eight foot high vertical louver screen. A rooftop door will be removed to accommodate the construction.

City Senior Planner Scott Albright presented a PowerPoint slide show depicting the plans and said that staff recommended approval. But the Commission had questions about the proposed project.

There was concern about the appearance of the screened area, although the staff report saw the screen as compatible with the historic features of City Hall. Commission members were bothered by the use of metal as material-some suggested that a transparent material be used. Also of concern was the screen’s position on the rooftop, its height, the height of the concealed equipment, which it was felt, could be positioned at grade rather than on platforms, and why there had not been a historic consultant’s assessment of the project.

A representative from the City addressed each of these concerns and agreed to work on a plan that would, as Commissioner John Berley phrased it “screen the equipment so you don’t see it but have it be very quiet and not look like it’ s intentional.” No specific deadline was set for the City to return with the changes.

The Commission more easily approved another Certificate of Appropriateness involving the installation of small bronze plaques on the bleacher risers at the west end of Santa Monica Pier. These plaques, two by five inches, will be etched with messages by donors supporting the Pier Centennial. A City representative assured the Commission that safety measures would be taken to make sure that the plaques were glued and nailed down properly (as the risers sometimes function as steps).

Returning to an item discussed several times before, the Commission gave thumbs down to the proposed designation of the former Paper Mate Pen factory building at 1681 26th Street. While the building owner’s representative, Ken Kutcher of Harding Larmore, noted that the consideration of designation had prompted no less than three PCR consultant reports, the Commissioners thought that the lengthy process had taught them much about the history of industrial buildings. “We needed that information to understand–I feel satisfied that this is not on the landmark side of things,” was how Nina Fresco put it.

A scheduled discussion on designation of the Shangri-La Hotel on Ocean Avenue was postponed until next month. As of meeting time, the owner had not yet talked with City staff regarding the application, but was reported to have made contact with the City just prior to the meeting.

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