On May 2 the City of Santa Monica, the Chamber of Commerce and several other prestigious local groups, including the Santa Monica Mirror, gave a 2012 Sustainability Quality Grand Prize to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, lauding among other things its social responsibility and stewardship of the natural environment.
The hotel was praised for its responsible tourism that includes “minimizing the hotel’s operational impact on the planet.”
I have no reason to question the validity of the award. But – and there is a big but – on April 24 the City Council gave the Fairmont Miramar developers the go-ahead to work with staff on their grandiose plan for “revitalization.”
This plan, while it saves our beloved Moreton fig tree, razes the entire block, destroys the iconic hotel, the bungalows, the numerous beautiful old trees, extensive shrubbery and foliage – all of the award-winning characteristics – in order to construct a fortress of high-rise towers, a diminished hotel and some 120 luxury condos, doubling the current amount of floor space to over 500,000 square feet on one city block.
The impact on traffic, parking, light, air, and shadow will be significant and change the quality of the neighborhood.
Some eight or ten years ago I spent a couple of years working on the City’s first Sustainable City Task Force. I believe that the award to the Fairmont Miramar at this time makes a mockery of our city’s dedication to the environmentally friendly values we adopted then – values our residents still subscribe to wholeheartedly.
The Miramar needs to go back to the drawing board. It needs authentic revitalization, using the current footprint, not a profit-driven condo project, to retain its current sustainability leadership.