By Staff Writer
Early Wednesday afternoon the Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field’s Coastal Development Permit application (CDP) was unanimously approved by the California Coastal Commission. Field supporters had generated over 125 pages of pro-field public correspondence including letters of unqualified support from State Senator Ben Allen, the School Board and many other elected and civic leaders.
Numerous community members provided public testimony or came to the meeting to show support, including representatives from Santa Monica College, the Recreation & Parks Commission, neighborhood groups, sports organizations and Santa Monica High School.
“A field in our Civic Center to serve thousands of children and adults was worth the two-plus decades of exhausting advocacy by a determined community,” said Recreation & Parks Commissioner Maryanne LaGuardia, a leader of the effort since the mid-nineties.
The City has three conditions to comply with in connection with receiving the CDP, but City Staff have assured field supporters that compliance will not be an issue and will not slow down the time-to-field. The first two conditions involve the City developing and implementing a parking and transportation demand management plan, reporting data annually to Coastal for five years and restricting the number of parking permits issued at the Civic Center. The third condition, imposed at the meeting by the Coastal Commissioners as the result of public correspondence and testimony, is a commemoration of the Belmar Triangle community, which was one of Santa Monica’s African-American neighborhoods before it was razed in the 1940s and 1950s to create the Civic Center area and the Civic Auditorium.
“Learning that history, the taking of homes and businesses from a minority community, has always helped cement and fuel our commitment to ensure that this long-promised field becomes a reality and that the Civic Center area remains one of public and not of private use” said Ann Hoover, Co-Chair of Santa Monica High School PTSA’s Civic Center Task Force.
“The field has always been the right thing to do for all the kids in our town, for SAMOHI, and for our Civic Center”, said Jaleh Mirhashemi, co-founder and Chair Emeritus of the Task Force.
Former Recreation & Parks Commission Chair, Phil Brock echoed that sentiment: “I am excited that all the residents who helped in this quest for more open space will see SAMOHI students and kids from all over our community on that field beginning in 2020”.
The next major milestone in the process will be for the City Council to award the construction contract in June 2019, followed by the anticipated groundbreaking of the project in August 2019.
“This was the biggest hurdle for fast-tracking the sports field,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “We’re excited about inviting everyone to the groundbreaking this summer.”
According to the City, this $8 million project is set to be complete in July 2020.