Editor’s Note: This is an open letter written by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights co-chairs Patricia Hoffman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein regarding the Hines Project up for discussion and a possible vote on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Santa Monica City Council.
The Steering Committee of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) recently discussed and concluded that the proposed Development Agreement with Hines Development at 1681 26th St. was not acceptable to our community and should be rejected by the City Council.
The vote of the Steering Committee was unanimous among those present and voting.
As Councilmembers are well aware, severe traffic congestion is one of the most serious issues plaguing our community.
Nowhere is that burden more severe than on Olympic Blvd particularly during the after work early (and often late) evening commute.
It regularly takes drivers an hour or more to leave the City of Santa Monica and make it to the 405. These conditions have spread as well to other east-west arterials. These conditions have become so severe that they are the subject of widespread irritation in the community and throughout the region.
The proposed Hines development will clearly aggravate this already severe burden.
The approximately 400,000 sq. ft. of commercial office space included in the project will be a major new traffic generator.
The burden will be especially great because the drive cycle of the employees in the office space will be to arrive in the morning and leave in the evening, contributing directly to the worst of the traffic. (By contrast the housing in the project will not only generate much less traffic overall, the drive cycle for these residents will be in the opposite directions of the most severe traffic).
SMRR does not believe that the benefits the Hines Development Agreement proposes are remotely sufficient to merit accepting this severe traffic burden. Nor do we have confidence that the measures intended to mitigate this traffic will be more than modestly effective or reliable over the long term.
It is true that the Exposition Light Rail project will contribute to a reduction in current traffic and will mitigate some of the new traffic from this project, but neither we nor our community have confidence that this relief will by itself be enough to make this project’s burden tolerable.
As we move forward we urge the Council to commit itself to restraint on major developments that generate significant traffic until our community can adjust to Expo LRT and gauge what capacity remains. We also urge Council to develop more aggressive community-wide trip reduction strategies so the burdens our community now bears can be reduced.
We urge City Councilmembers to vote NO on the proposed Hines DA. The alternative of use of the current facility is preferable to the proposed Development Agreement.
Co-Chairs – Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights