April 21, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Coalition For A Livable City Files 34-Page Lawsuit Against Hines:

They have been accused in some corners as being the most vocal but not necessarily the loudest group, but a collection of Santa Monica activists, residents, and stakeholders who oppose the Bergamot Transit Village development proposed by Hines 26th Street LLC (Hines) have used every tool in the book to either prevent or reverse the project from ever seeing light of day.

One group – Residocracy.org – successfully engaged in a massive signature-gathering campaign to get a referendum on the ballot later this year, hoping a majority of Santa Monica voters will reverse the Hines development agreement (DA) the City Council narrowly approved in February.

Another group – the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, or SMCLC – filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Hines and the City of Santa Monica, seeking an injunction to prevent the Bergamot Transit Village from being built.

The lawsuit was filed March 10, one day before Armen Melkonians of Residocracy.org submitted more than 13,000 signatures to City Hall in order to have a referendum placed on the ballot.

“Residents were forced to sue because the City didn’t do its job,” SMCLC co-chair Diana Gordon stated after the lawsuit was filed. “The City got steamrolled by Hines from the beginning, and ignored the public outcry from a united coalition of residents and community groups that the project being proposed was too massive and would generate unbearable traffic in an already gridlocked area.”

Opponents of the Hines DA and Bergamot Transit Village project, such as SMCLC, contend there are “fundamental flaws” with the development’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It is also argued the project will add more than 7,000 additional new daily car trips in the Bergamot Station area, where vehicle congestion already exists, in part, because of The Water Garden and other business parks near Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

In a 34-page lawsuit filed on behalf of SMCLC by Strumwasser and Woocher, the coalition argues City Hall failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it certified the EIR.

Specifically, the lawsuit stated the City of Santa Monica had an obligation under CEQA to review and disclose environmental impacts of and feasible alternatives to the project proposed by Hines prior to the Council’s voted on the DA last month.

SMCLC’s lawsuit details the allegations of faulty EIR analysis by City staff and council members.

“The EIR does not adequately analyze impacts of the [Bergamot Transit Village] Project on the environment, including, but not limited to, traffic, land use, water supply, population, greenhouse gases/climate change, or cumulative impacts,” the lawsuit states.

“As an example of the types of defects in the EIR’s analysis, the trip generation rate for traffic generated by office workers relies upon a square foot metric that allows for much larger office space per square foot than is presently provided in many workplaces, thereby understating the traffic generation of the project,” the allegation continues.

According to the lawsuit, City Hall and Hines are also accused of violating the Bergamot Area Plan as well as the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).

For example, the lawsuit alleges the Bergamot Transit Village exceeds the mandatory development standards for height and floor-area-ratio (FAR) limitations as established in the Bergamot Area Plan.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims the Hines project “contributes 519 new evening peak hour trips.” The LUCE maintains a policy of preventing projects in Santa Monica from adding new net vehicle trips during peak p.m. hours.

SMCLC also claims in its suit the project’s affordable housing plan is inconsistent with the City’s goals as outlined in official planning documents and Santa Monica law.

The City Attorney’s Office stated it anticipated the CEQA challenge but cannot comment on the merits of the lawsuit.

A timeline of how the lawsuit will proceed remains up in the air.

“In this type of suit, the first thing we will need to do is prepare the administrative record. I believe we have 60 days to do that,” City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie told The Mirror. “So, nothing will happen in court for a while. We don’t know yet when the matter will be heard.”

The project proposes 498 units. Under City law, the DA must require Hines to set aside five percent of the residential units for those households earning 30 percent of the median income for the entire county.

Five percent of 498 units equal 24.9; the DA required Hines to provide 24 affordable housing units for those households earning 30 percent of the county median income. SMCLC contends Hines should be required to provide 25 such units.

The City Council approved Feb. 4 a slightly modified DA to allow Hines 26th Street LLC to bring a five-building commercial, creative, and residential space to the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street.

Four of the seven council members voted in favor of the DA, which, unless overturned by a referendum or blocked by a judge, would potentially replace the old Papermate site with about 765,000 square feet of building.

Bergamot Transit Village includes 473 rental housing units, 25 artist work/live units, and an estimated 400,000 square feet of creative office, restaurant, and retail space, as well as 90,000 square feet of open space, a three-level subterranean parking structure accommodating between 1,900 and 2,100 parking spaces, the construction of two new north/south streets with signalized intersections at Olympic Boulevard, and an east/west extension of Nebraska Avenue connecting 26th and Stewart Streets.

The project’s five buildings would average 71 feet in height, with the tallest building reaching 81 feet, according to the final EIR.

in News
Related Posts

World’s Only Solar-Powered Ferris Wheel Goes ‘Green’ For Earth Day at Santa Monica Pier

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

Earth Day light show Thursday night By Chad Winthrop A Earth Day-themed light show is coming to the Santa Monica...

Samohi Vikings Frosh-Soph Defeat Culver City Centaurs in Final Seconds

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

2020 was a tough year for Santa Monica High School football as Covid-19 restrictions forced all high school sports to...

SaMo Pride Announces Return of Art Walk

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

Annual event returns June 1-30 throughout downtown area By Timothy Michael In honor of Pride Month, SaMo Pride has announced...

Edify TV: Biking Increasing in Los Angeles

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Once considered among the worst places for cyclists, data shows that biking has increased substantially in Los Angeles. Learn more...

Santa Monica Police Bolster Patrols as Jury Deliberation Begins in Derek Chauvin Trial

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Santa Monica police say “no specific intelligence of any unrest”  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica police are increasing deployment of...

Robot Powered Food Delivery Program Expanding: Santa Monica Beat – April, 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Robot Powered Food Delivery Program Expanding * Two Men Arrested For...

County Holds Hearing on Effort to Split Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Los Angeles County Office of Education makes no decision, will return in June  By Sam Catanzaro A long-awaited public hearing...

Edify TV: Venice Handball Courts Encampment Cleared

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

Sanitation crews Thursday cleared a homeless encampment at the Venice Beach handball courts. Learn more in this video made possible...

Edify TV: $2 Billion Beverly Hills Development Proposed Near Westside

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

A developer wants to build a $2 billion condo and retail development flanking the Beverly Hilton hotel. Learn more in...

State Funds Two Additional Sustainable Housing Proposals in Santa Monica

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

Proposals are designed to help with affordability and sustainability  By Toi Creel California is paving the way for environmentally-friendly housing...

Santa Monica City Council Rejects Proposed Ban of Certain Items at Protests

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Lawmakers vote down item 4-3 at meeting this week  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica lawmakers rejected a motion this week...

Edify TV: LAFD Announces Likely Cause of Ballona Wetlands Fire

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

The LAFD has revealed the cause of a March fire that destroyed five acres of the Ballona Wetlands. Learn more...

Shake Shack Set to Open in Santa Monica

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

NYC-based burger chain to open at Wilshire and 5th this weekend By Kerry Slater East Coast burger joint Shake Shack...

Restaurant Spotlight: Piccolo Bringing Fine Italian Dining to Santa Monica and Venice

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Latest restaurant from Chef Antonio Mure with two locations on Westside  By Timothy Michael An esteemed chef with deep ties...