August 13, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Council to Decide on Contentious Plaza Development

The Plaza at Santa Monica to be debated by Santa Monica City Council Tuesday

By Sam Catanzaro

Santa Monica City Council Tuesday will determine the fate of a contentious development known as The Plaza planned for downtown.

Plans call for an 11-story, 240-room luxury hotel, 106,800 square feet of creative office space, approximately 40,000 square feet of open public space and 48 units of affordable housing at 4th Street and Arizona Avenue in Downtown Santa Monica. In 2017 the project was scaled back to 129 feet, instead of earlier plans which called for a height of 148 feet.

Slow growth advocates like Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) have raised concern that The Plaza will add to the already congested traffic experienced in Downtown Santa Monica on top of worries that the project’s height will block sunlight and ocean breezes.

“The 4th and Arizona property is the last major parcel of undeveloped public land in the heart of our city. As such, it must serve a predominantly public purpose. Your project does not do that and impermissibly would privatize our public space. When residents learn of this, they are appalled that our City would agree to such a plan, and partner with a private company for a private development consisting of a luxury hotel and office space,” reads an opposition letter SMCLC wrote in February. “It promises unacceptable levels of traffic; it is a giveaway of our scarce public open space, and an eleven- or twelve-story fortress spanning three hundred feet between two public streets that is the antithesis of Santa Monica.”

Negotiations were put on hold in February when California expanded regulations for publicly owned land. Officials have since determined the property is exempt from the expanded state rules yet opponents of the project say the exemption is unsound and argue the project in its current for would open the city to litigation.

At the meeting Tuesday, set to begin at 6:30 p.m., City Council will decide whether to approve the project in its current form, open up talks with the developer, Clarett West, to come up with a different development or scrape the project in its entirety.

In a statement sent to the Santa Monica Mirror in February, Clarett West claimed the project had “overwhelming support”.

“We are encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received to date and we are excited to continue our collaborative effort with the local community and the City of Santa Monica to deliver a neighborhood serving project of the highest quality that promotes the health and vibrancy of downtown and Santa Monica at large,” Clarett West said.

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