Slow-growth group says City is violating Surplus Land Act
By Sam Catanzaro
A slow-growth group has filed a lawsuit to halt the development of an 11-story, 240-room luxury hotel proposed on publicly-owned land in downtown Santa Monica.
The proposed development, known as The Plaza at Santa Monica, is an 11-story, 240-room luxury hotel, with 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.
Negotiations were put on hold in July after slow-growth group Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) filed a complaint arguing the property should be reserved for public use under the California surplus land act. In August, however, Santa Monica City Council voted to continue negotiations with developer Clarett West, deciding the job, housing and revenue it would generate outweigh the risks of pending litigation.
On Friday, September 25 SMCLC filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging the City of Santa Monica is failing to abide by the Surplus Land Act, which requires the City to offer publicly owned land for affordable housing, park and recreational or open-space purposes.
“Residents have been forced to sue because the City refused to follow the law. This is the only remaining major parcel of publicly-owned, undeveloped land in our downtown and the City is negotiating to privatize it. Public land should be used for a public purpose,” said Diana Gordon, SMCLC’s co-chair. “This is unacceptable: Our city needs affordable housing and needs more open space. SMCLC’s lawsuit seeks to compel the City to pursue these community priorities on our public land.”
The lawsuit asks the court to issue a peremptory writ of mandate, requiring the City to stop its negotiations with the developer of the 4th and Arizona project and comply with the Surplus Land Act.
“The City’s conduct demonstrates the abiding hold that developers and those special interests that benefit from their projects have over our city government; a hold so strong that the City Council has put aside its professed support for affordable housing and open space,” SMCLC said in a press release.
The City of Santa Monica and Clarett West were not immediately available for comment.