After a lengthy hearing, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously denied an appeal on April 28 of the Architectural Review Board’s (ARB) approval of a Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM) 33-unit, 100 percent affordable housing project that will be located at 2602 Broadway.
The ARB had reviewed and approved the project on November 16, 2009, but Santa Monica resident David Cogan decided to file an appeal of their approval on November 23, 2009. According to the city staff report his appeal is based on design concerns including the project’s modern design with sharp, high walls, “the configuration of the open space that is walled off from the neighborhood, and the location of the driveway onto Broadway.”
Cogan’s appeal was also based on the traffic related to the project, the project’s impact on on-street parking, the concentration of affordable housing projects within the neighborhood and the fact that an environmental impact report was not prepared for the project. However, these concerns are not part of the ARB’s purview, which includes reviewing a project’s building design, colors, materials and landscaping plans, and thus cannot be part of the of the Planning commission’s appeal process. When an ARB decision is appealed to the Planning commission they must review a project using the same parameters the ARB did.
Community input on the project was mixed. Those who live in other CCSM buildings in the city were very supportive of the project as were those who were concerned about preserving trees and plants in the city. Cosmos Buaa who is a Santa Monica resident and member of Tree For All told the commission that CCSM always “works with the community on saving trees and other plants.”
The Chair of the ARB, Michael Folonis stated that the project was “well-designed, and nicely proportioned.” In addition, its “massing was broken up in a sensitive way, its scale was appropriate for the neighborhood, its materials, colors, and its landscape and open space for the children to play are well matched.”
A project neighbor stated as others that the “building is too commercial and industrial for our neighborhood.” She also asked that affordable housing be more spread out throughout the city.
Katherine Fermadol was concerned about the loss of trees on Broadway due to the project and that the project’s driveway on Broadway would impact traffic negatively on Princeton Street.
CCSM’s Executive Director, Joan Ling, stressed that they could not “accommodate all the community requests” when designing the project.
Members of the commission liked the proposal. Commissioner Gerda Newbold summed up their consensus when she remarked, “there’s no perfect project. This developer has really done a good job of looking at all the different interests for this site and designed a beautiful project.”
The commission voted to include two recommendations to improve the project after denying the appeal. One was to soften the façade on the Broadway elevation. The other was to create stronger connections between the project and 26th Street and Broadway.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com