Editor’s Note: This is an open letter to the Santa Monica City Council.
Why do we end up simply taking the best of what developers are willing to give us?
Even if the Village Trailer Park developer agrees to provide additional affordable units, I would strongly encourage you to rethink this Development Agreement. Assuming overriding issues of elderly eviction, landmarking, or conservation zoning are regrettably past history, this D.A. should still be rescinded when you consider the overwhelming design fallacies:
1. Access to 290 of 377 units (77%) from windowless 5ft. wide interior corridors which are 400 – 500 ft. long or 1-1/3 to 1-2/3 the length of a football field – truly an inhuman “quality of life.”
2. Garage circulation requires traveling in two subterranean levels as much as 2000ft. or 6-2/3 football fields to reach an assigned space.
3. Lack of privacy and light in narrow canyon courtyards 225 foot long and twice as high as they are wide (i.e. the width of the council chamber but with walls 3 times higher)
4. No open space that is not 100% concrete paved with raised or depressed planters and “potted” landscape.
5. Non-mitigated traffic impacts generating 2200 daily trips!
6. Total lack of relationship to the adjacent neighborhood which will result in reduced property values for those neighboring residents along with massive visual and traffic issues.
7. Community benefits that don’t address resulting educational and infrastructure needs which this project will create.
Why didn’t staff ever mention anything negative resulting from this design in their lengthy reports (other than traffic). And, it’s also disturbing that the Planning Commission and Architectural Review Boards don’t have the time to discuss these projects in the depth required. But clearly this project is way too dense with these design fallacies creating a slum-like environment.
Why should a developer’s smooth-talking, opportunistic ambition trump the common welfare? It is becoming all too apparent in our city that the wreckage from this type of ambition threads its way largely unchecked through our political and community life. And if we didn’t approve this much density, we wouldn’t need all the drastic parking provisions being proposed.
If the council accedes to an “affordable compromise,” it will truly be a community travesty. Please step back and think this through.
Alain de Botton wrote that “bad architecture is a frozen mistake writ large. We owe it to the fields and trees (and the homes we replace) that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness.” And Le Corbusier stated “the fate of cities are made in town halls.” Please do the right thing and maintain this revocation.
Ron Goldman, FAIA
Santa Monica resident