The City Council reviewed compliance for zoning exceptions after being caught by local reports for not annually reviewing the projects according to City code requirements.
The council heard staff reports on Tuesday, Sept 28 about finding multiple instances of developers falling short of their development agreements, which are granted to large projects that want zoning and ordinance leeway in exchange for public benefits.
In May, staff first reviewed 12 Development Agreements in the City for compliance finding only four met the “good faith” original DA. Of the eight out of compliance, five showed “substantial compliance” requiring only limited follow-up. However, three projects needed significant staff observation. All agreements had paid the required fees.
Staff will present to council an ongoing annual review each January about compliance reports in for each agreement submitted by developers in the city.
The council found three more properties in full compliance after working with the City. Staff cited the Water Garden on Olympic Boulevard for child care and art selection issues. Also in compliance is the contentious Arboretum mixed-use building that required affordable housing options to be set in place after lengthy debate in front of the council spanning months.
The NME building, better known at the MTV creative offices, met compliance with child care provisions.
St. John’s Health Center has yet to reach compliance with the DA and must now file a formal amendment to defer the building of a subterranean parking structure for ten years. The request will be considered later this year.
Staff also looked into landscaping to cover the emergency department and several reports were filed with the City. The developer of the site agreed to multiple other requirements and public benefits during the first phase of compliance. Health care provisions are considered a public benefit in the agreement.
Council member Kevin McKeown noted that St John’s was fined in August for over-billing Medicare costs. The hospital had been over-billing since 2006 compiling $5.2 million in costs. The City recognized the issue and City Planner Eileen Fogerty said it had been “addressed.”
Council member Richard Bloom pointed out that many of the agreements were entered into in the ‘80s asking for outdated benefits. After having a conversation about finding new Big Blue Bus funding, he said the City should renegotiate to receive a portion of the free parking fee for transit operations.
The group is still working with the City since last May toward a conclusion, according to representatives from the Sheraton Delphina. Art piece and landscaping on the property will be worked on next month. Free parking for both day users and overnight now has signage as required.
Paseo Del Mar, a mixed-use building, and Maguire Thomas, a commercial development, both on Ocean Avenue, are working with the City for full compliance. The Yahoo Center, built 29 years ago, must meet parking requirements for sufficient staff and shared parking options in 30 days or face enforcement.
Mayor Bobby Shriver suggested one remedy for noncompliance could be that staff may not furnish a compliance letter in order to let businesses refinance.
The staff found the Rand Corporation, Lantana East and Lantana South, and Santa Monica College Parking Structure/Pool in compliance with City agreements.
Three other Development Agreements with the City have yet to start construction.