PCH CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS STATUS REPORT, SANTA MONICA

CIRS DELAYED AGAIN; CA INCLINE WILL CLOSE MONDAY; NEW SM PROJECTS MAY BOLLIX TRAFFIC

From: Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association
Date: Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 2:16 PM
Subject: PCH Construction Projects Update

Here is today’s PCH Construction Projects Status Report. Updates always will be pasted below the “hints”
section (which now includes a 24 hr number for California Incline Information). It is our goal to keep
you informed of the details of any project which may impact your access to and convenient use of the Pacific
Coast Highway between Pacific Palisades and the McClure Tunnel. We will track timing and the details of any projects or scheduled activity.

Here are a few hints:

* Santa Monica has implemented a 24-hour hotline for California Incline project information: 888.303.
6026. Information is also available at smconstructs.org; cityofsantamonica on Facebook and @CAincline on
twitter.
* The City of Santa Monica will host weekly informational meetings at Ken Edwards Center, located at 1527
4th Street, Rm #106, every Thursday evening from 5 pm to 7pm.
* sigalert.com will give you a real time snapshot of traffic conditions on the Coast Highway and local freeways and includes a link to a camera located where the Santa Monica Freeway begins.
* If you have a smartphone, google maps has a traffic monitoring feature based upon tracking of the movement of gps enabled cellphones. And,
* you can download the free WAZE app from Play Store. This cloud-source app depends on reports from
other app users.
* Santa Monica Constructs is a City of Santa Monica website that provides updates on construction in that city including the Expo II light rail project. You also can find links to various weekly updates and real-time parking information.
* PCH Partners is a website created to provide information regarding projects that may impact the highway.
* Wilshire Blvd. Bus Rapid Transit Information can be found here. This is the Bus Lane from downtown to
Santa Monica on Wilshire that is under construction. The section from MacArthur Park to Federal Avenue is
now operating (does not include the City of Beverly Hills; don’t ask!) and the lane will eventually extend to Centinela Ave.
* Respond to this email and we will try to answer any of your questions; comments are welcome.

TODAY’S PCH CONSTRUCTION REPORT:

(CIRS [Sewer Project] project completion is currently estimated to occur in mid-July. Santa Monica will close the California Incline roadway this Monday morning (April 20). SM projects related to light rail will reduce options for commuters in the short run.

CIRS. The completion of the 900’ sewer project has been delayed. The City now believes the project will be completed by mid-July 2015. The basic project is on schedule. The tunneling is complete and the sewer pipe is being installed. During construction it was discovered that the PCH roadway was lacking a proper base and there was subsidence around the pipe. Correction of these unexpected soil deficiencies will require significant work to bolster the area. This will result in an estimated three-and one-half month overlap with the California Incline Project (see next paragraph).

CALIFORNIA INCLINE. The road will be closed to through traffic Monday and the contractor will begin positioning equipment on the incline and also in the lanes currently used by vehicles turning onto and from the Incline to Ocean Avenue. Santa Monica has implemented robust communication media including internet, Facebook and Twitter as well as a 24/7 hotline, all detailed in the first bullet under “hints,” above.

As promised, Santa Monica has installed several fixed and dynamic CMS (changeable) message signs warning of the project. There are five CMS beginning from North of Topanga Canyon Road. Expect these signs to list times to various streets such as Sunset, Temescal and Chautauqua (Think of the signs on the freeway that state: “15 minutes to downtown,” for example). There are signs on the 101 freeway in Ventura and Agoura Hills to discourage discretionary cross-mountain drivers. North of Wilshire Blvd, “Local Access” signs have been erected to discourage traffic detouring through northern Santa Monica and Santa Monica Canyon. Northbound Route 1 (pch) drivers will be directed to 7th Street and Moomat Ahiko (Ocean Ave. next to the pier). Southbound traffic to downtown Santa Monica will be directed to use Moomat Ahiko, Lincoln and 20th Street. New digital signs at beach parking lots are being used to notify highway drivers. The Santa Monica City Traffic Engineer promises a “fluid process” of changes as needed.

Moomat Ahiko will be restriped at Ocean Ave. to funnel two lanes toward downtown Santa Monica and only one lane toward Marina del Rey. Project completion is expected by Memorial Day 2016. Santa Monica rightly points out that the signal at the bottom of the Incline will be mostly green which will speed highway traffic.

Santa Monica has funded LADOT “white glove” traffic control officers at the Canyon School traffic light during peak to and from school hours and Summer beach commute times. These officers may be moved around as needed. Expect to see a greater police presence in the canyon. Left turns will be prohibited from Ocean Avenue onto Mabery Rd. LADOT has “refreshed” the traffic markings in the canyon.

NEW SANTA MONICA PROJECTS. On the other hand, Colorado Blvd is now westbound only at Ocean Avenue and a large Expo Line terminus station is under construction at 4th and Colorado, resulting in fewer options for drivers
using Moomat Ahiko to access downtown Santa Monica.

SMCCA along with BOCA, PPCC and a representatives of LA City Councilman Mike Bonin met with Santa Monica representatives to review the status of the various measures this week. We will meet again to review the success of the various measures. Let us know what you think.

Here are a few photo illustrations of the Incline proposal from the staff report to city council:

Visit SMCCA Web Site

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Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association P.O. Box 3441 Santa Monica, California 90408-3441 US

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NOTE: I’ve known George for years. He’s a very smart man, and probably knows more about traffic, roads, highways, streets, likely detours, construction projects and so on than anyone else. Trust him, and you’ll have an easier time during the upcoming construction period.

Peggy Clifford

802 ASHLAND: ASBESTOS AND THE HEALTH & SAFETY OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Hello,

I am forwarding an email I sent to the Santa Monica City Council and Planning Commission Members concerning a development proposed in our neighborhood. For more than a year, my neighbors and I have voiced our opposition to the project because of its many troubling aspects (mass, density, lack of conformity, health and safety, and traffic). Our neighborhood will be appealing the approval of this project on April 22nd before the Planning Commission. Because city staff has deemed this project ministerial (or conforming), we are not able to voice our opposition on some of the most concerning aspects of this project as they stand outside of the purview for approval. Therefore, I see the press as my only opportunity to air my concerns. The public should be informed on how city staff has treated its constituents. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this project further with you. This email to the city represents one of several I intend to write before the appeal hearing, and I will forward all to you for your consideration. Email me or call if you care to discuss this further.

Thank you,
Rachel Kelley

Dear City Council & Planning Commission Members,

My name is Rachel Kelley and I am writing you regarding the proposed development referred to as 2919 Lincoln Blvd./802 Ashland Ave. which is scheduled for an appeal hearing before the Planning Commission on April 22nd. My husband and I are 20-year Santa Monica homeowners and the 70′ rear yard lot line of our property shares a portion of the 120′ eastern boundary of the property on which the planned 10-unit apartment complex is proposed to be built. Our house is situated directly downwind of the proposed project and, due to the hillside at this location, there are nearly constant (often strong) ocean breezes blowing in our direction.

Asbestos_pile.0002

Since March 17th, 2014 when this project first appeared before the ARB for review, a group of neighbors have been speaking out against its approval because of numerous safety and non-compliant zoning issues that we feel have not been adequately responded to by the Planning Department as well as other city departments.

Today, specifically, I want to once again inform city staff of the presence of translite (asbestos) shingles littered about the subject property on the soil surface and just below. It appears that at some time in the (distant) past, someone dumped construction debris on the property and shallowly covered it with dirt. Time and weather have slowly revealed some of the trash over the years. These shingles are especially dangerous because they are deteriorating and friable. (Please see attachment ‘Asbestos_litter’).

Although I have repeatedly reported the presence of hazardous waste on the project site at the ARB meetings, my concerns have been ignored or minimized by city staff. Last spring, assistant planner Rachel Dimond said that any “issues” such as this would be “handled” during the inspection phase once the project was approved!

It is apparent to me that city staff are not taking my concerns seriously. The 2919 Lincoln Blvd./802 Ashland Ave. proposed development is designated as a “Preferred Permitted” project, and the Planning Department maintains that the project is ministerial due to its size and scope, and that since their claim is that it conforms to code, it stands outside of CEQA review citing exemptions from sections 15268 and 15061(b)(3) of the CEQA guidelines. However, the University of California CEQA Handbook states the following in Section 2.1.1 -Project Definition:

Asbestos_pile.0004

Defining the Project
CEQA applies to all “discretionary projects.” The term discretionary refers to situations in which a governmental agency can exercise its judgment in deciding whether and how to approve or carry out a project. The term project refers to the whole of an action that has the potential, directly or ultimately, to result in a physical change to the environment (CEQA Guidelines Section 15378). This includes all phases of a project that are reasonably foreseeable, and all related projects that are directly linked to the project.

For the University of California, typical projects that could have a significant effect on the environment include capital construction projects, LRDPs, leases, acquisition of property, substantial changes in the use of facilities, and series of actions such as seismic renovation or asbestos removal. Real estate transactions such as leases and acquisitions of property may be considered projects that could have a significant effect on the environment. The proposed location for the project is also essential as it is frequently the site of a project that determines the type, intensity and extent of the environmental impacts. [emph. added].

Moreover, land use attorney John Murdock in a May 30, 2014 letter addressed to the ARB speaks to air quality issues and CEQA requirements:

“….This letter is presented on behalf of Rachel Kelley in furtherance of the reasons and the evidence previously provided by her and other residents in opposition to this project, which has improperly been given an exemption from CEQA review and therefore cannot be approved in any city discretionary action until CEQA has been satisfied by way of a Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or full EIR. Which one of those choices will be proper depends on an analysis which has not yet been done because staff has determined the project is exempt. The grounds for the exemption are somewhat of a moving target, which is a red flag telling you this is an unusual case and not a proper one for any of the stated grounds.

Since in this case no environmental review under CEQA was undertaken, due to initial staff reliance on a categorical exemption under State Guidelines Section 15332, the lower threshold standard was whether Petitioner presented evidence supporting a fair argument that there may be adverse impacts in need of review and mitigation. See, Azusa Land Reclamation Co v. Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster (2d Dist. 1997) 52 Cal. App 4th 1165, 1202.

However, staff apparently abandoned this exemption when it was pointed out that it does not apply, due to the limitation in subd.(d), which reads as follows:
15332. IN-FiLL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS: Class 32 consists of projects characterized as in-fill development meeting the conditions described in this section.
(a)….
(d) Approval of the project would not result in any significant effects relating to traffic, noise, air quality, or water quality.
(14 Cal. Code Regs. 15332(d); emph. supplied).

Further, the standard of review here must also take into account the prohibition embodied in State CEQA Guideline 15300,2(c), adopted in reliance on the Supreme Court’s decision in Wildlife Alive v. Chickering (1976) 18 Cal. 3d L90,1 and other cases cited by the Agency, providing that the party opposing the exemption need
only show a “reasonable possibility” for significant effects:
[c) Significant Effect. A categorical exemption shall not be used for an activity where there is a reasonable possibility that the activity will have a significant effect on the environment due to unusual circumstances.
[14 CaL Code Regs., L5300.2[c); emph. added).

…..As we see fairly often in CEQA cases, city staff doesn’t always get it right
and the Boards, Commission, and Councils who make the decisions to approve or deny
a project cannot simply rubber-stamp what staff presents to them. It is equally
clear in the present case, where there was no attempt at mitigating the acknow-
ledged impacts, that it would be error for the Board to rely upon the cited categorical exemption.

Section 15061[b)[3), also apparently cited (more recently) by city staff is the so-called “common sense” exemption, i.e., no CEQA review is required when it is so obvious under anyone’s reading of common sense there will be no impacts from a project. However, it cannot be used as an excuse for an exemption here because it does not meet the criterion of that section, to wit, it only applies “Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment”. [emph. added). Here there is most certainly more than a “possibility” of a significant effect on the environment….

…State law commands that no discretionary approvals can be given by any city for
a project that does not have proper CEQA review. This project does not have proper CEQA review, it has a claimed exemption that does not fit the facts on the ground. Hence, we respectfully submit that the proper course of action for this Board is to deny any approval whatsoever and hold the matter over until city staff has conducted the proper review and presented it to you again with the application for approval.”

(Please see attachment 3-Letter).

Last Spring I observed from my backyard fence that many of the visible asbestos shingles were no longer present on the soil surface. Later that day, I saw a few piles of shingles stacked on a concrete gutter behind the former Ozar Brothers Tire Store that fronts on Lincoln Blvd and shares a boundary line at the 802 portion of the property. That was the first time I observed asbestos in that location, and it seemed obvious to me that they had been collected from the hill and stashed there. (Please see attachment ‘Asbestos_pile’).

Because of the dismissive attitude I experienced from the Planning Department, in August 2014 I reported the asbestos to the AQMD, and based on what I described, Inspector John Anderson came out to my address. He made a finding of hazardous waste in the form of translite asbestos shingles based on observations made from my rear yard and the property gate at Ashland Ave. He told me to report to the AQMD any further action of removal or commencing of construction as his findings absolutely required a hazardous waste abatement.

The EPA establishes National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) whereby regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM) means (a) Friable asbestos material. No one in the Santa Monica Planning Department can possibly know the quantity or volume of RACM present below the soil surface behind my house without a proper environmental review. To minimize the reported presence of a known and federally regulated carcinogen is an untenable position for city staff to take. The fragile condition of the visible asbestos on the hillside indicates a high probability of finer particles dispersed in the soil. Common sense and the law require nothing less than a proper investigation by the appropriate authorities. Regarding the proposed project at 2919 Lincoln/802 Ashland, the casual attitude Santa Monica Planning Department has demonstrated regarding public health and safety is unconscionable.

Before the flush of spring growth on the lot, I noticed that some of the remaining “uncollected” asbestos shingles were no longer visible, suggesting another “pass” at removing them had been made. However, I have eyewitnesses, photographs, and the report by the AQMD inspector not to mention federal and state law that says that the proposed project 2919 Lincoln Blvd/802 Ashland cannot be approved in any city discretionary action until CEQA has been satisfied by way of a Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or full EIR. The health and safety of our neighborhood demands that the city act lawfully and appropriately.

Thank you for your attention,

Rachel Kelley

RESIDOCRACY COLLECTS 1,135 E-PETITION SIGNATURES AND PLEDGES FOR 10,500 SIGNATURES

If the City Council ignores residents’ opposition to a number of proposed changes in the Zoning Code
update, Residocracy may proceed on a Referendum/Initiative/E-petition update (ZOU) (Too Tall, Too Big,
Too Much)

* 1,135 E-Petition signatures from our Community Network of Residents (Congratulations!)

* Pledges of 10,500 signatures on a referendum and/or an initiative to limit development should City Council ignore the E-Petition

Thank you to all of our Community Network of Residents who have already signed the E-Petition.

If the City Council ignores you and the E-Petition, Residocracy predicts a high likelihood of success should a referendum and/or an initiative petition be launched by Residocracy.

If you have not yet signed the E-Petition, you still can by clicking on the following link: Read and Sign E-Petition

(Our E-Petition on the ZOU can be signed until such time that City Council Votes on the Zoning Ordinance Update at a later hearing)

Copyright © 2015 Residocracy, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is: Residocracy, 1112 Montana Ave, #358
Santa Monica, CA 90403

SHINE MOVES TO PROMENADE PLAYHOUSE SUNDAY

In honor of its move to a new venue this month, SHINE will feature true stories of “New Beginnings,” inspiring tales of fresh starts in relationships, careers,
locales, and personal reinvention.

The event will be held Sunday, April 19 at 7:00pm at The Promenade Playhouse in
Monica.

SHINE has grown into a highly popular storytelling event over the last two-and-
-half years in Santa Monica. Launched at the YWCA, it features experienced and
new storytellers coming together once a month to share inspiring true stories.
The event is known for its relaxed community atmosphere and powerful, entertaining stories.

This month, SHINE will be hosted by Andrea Schell, a dynamic performer, writer,
and producer. Andrea recently performed her solo show “From Seven Layers to a
Bikini Top in Less Than Five Hours,” as part of Santa Monica Repertory Theater’s Solo Series. She is Associate Producer on the indie film Tiger Orange; created, produced and hosted the web show What Would Men Say? (www.evoxtelevision.com); and can be seen telling stories at SHINE and around Los Angeles.

Professional storytellers for SHINE are chosen from some of the nation’s top award-winning storytellers and writers. Amateur storytellers of all ages and walks of life also take the stage. Six storytellers are booked in advance, and one is chosen from the audience in a random drawing.

Starting now, SHINE will be held monthly on Sunday evenings at the Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Doors open at 6:30pm and show starts at 7:00pm.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at www.StoreyProductions.com. Cash and checks only at the door.

Those interested in becoming a SHINE storyteller are encouraged to visit www.StoreyProductions.com in advance for monthly theme and submission guidelines.

SHINE is produced by Isabel Storey and presented by Storey Productions in association with Santa Monica Repertory Theater and UCLArts and Healing.
OW:
For more information, www.StoreyProductions.com or 310-452-2321 Those interested in becoming a SHINE storyteller are encouraged to visit www.StoreyProductions.com in advance for monthly theme and submission guidelines.

PARKING:
City parking structure behind theater.

EDUCATION FOUNDATION GIVES SECOND ANNUAL PIER PARTY

Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) is pleased to announce its second annual Pier Party, a fundraising event to benefit all students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD).

Pier Party will be held Sunday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The private event,
open to everyone who buys a ticket, expects to draw about 1,500 families and community members to Pacific Park on the historic Santa Monica Pier.

Tickets range from $25 to $175 for general admission and VIP.

There will be rides, games, a live DJ, food vendors, face painting, touch tanks from the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, interactive games by Marbles, The Brain Store, arts and crafts with P.S. ARTS, and other activities for children.

VIP ticket holders will enjoy a breakfast reception and brunch tastings from favorite restaurants, including: Caffe Luxxe, FIG, Pier Burger, Border Grill and Cookie Good.

“Pier Party is SMMEF’s premier community event,” said Kathleen Rawson, President of the SMMEF Board of Directors and CEO of Downtown Santa Monica. “It brings together families from every school in SMMUSD to celebrate and support our students and teachers. We were thrilled by the success of the inaugural Pier Party last year and are very excited for year’s event.”

All proceeds from the event support SMMEF-funded programs in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. SMMEF raises funds annually to fund programs that ensure excellence for every student and school in the district. SMMEF-funded staff and programs include instructional assistants, literacy coaches, elementary arts education, additional middle and high school faculty members, teacher training, and discretionary grants for all 16 schools in the district. Many schools use these discretionary grants to provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) or visual and performing arts programs. Some schools also use these funds to hire additional health clerks, augment on-site counseling programs, or run other programs focused on student wellness.

“SMMEF’s work to raise funds and community awareness on behalf of SMMUSD students is vital,” said Mary Ann Powell, CEO and General Manager of Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. “Pier Party is a wonderful, unique way for local businesses to actively better our community. Pacific Park enthusiastically supports SMMEF and is proud to partner in this district-wide event.”

Other event sponsors include Skydance; Santa Monica Next; Related; Huntley Santa Monica Beach; Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows + MSD Capital, L.P.; MINI of Santa Monica; The Plaza at Santa Monica; Santa Monica Place; Stifel; Bob Gabriel Co. Insurance; Casa del Mar and Shutters; Chase; DFH Architects; Equity Office Management, LLC; The Georgian Hotel; Harding, Larmore, Kutcher & Kozal, LLP; Hudson Pacific Properties; Islands Restaurant; Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica; Morley Builders; NMS Properties, Inc; Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs; Taxi! Taxi!; Gary Limjap; Khedr Management Company; Stacy White and Brad Simpson of Partners Trust; NMS Properties, Inc.; Vidi Volo; Santa Monica Daily Press; TREATS Frozen Yogurt and Dessert Bar; and Free Associates.

For more event information and to purchase tickets, go to www.PierParty.org.

The four ticket pricing levels are:
• Ticket Level 1 ($25 each or $100 for 5), which includes unlimited rides and one popcorn or cotton candy;
• Ticket Level 2 ($50), which includes unlimited rides, one popcorn or cotton candy, a meal voucher, and a $5 game card;
• http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001-cKGK9ZBAW7cmz7C-0APwhofD53GWEOe-B89I-pmVCq1RlDb_h_HWGND_7UrDQuu_KCoMbkxpqJaGkbnv0J8x9Ql1NSitHGdnECWEv88zFrztFogBZMHlA==VIP Event ($125), which includes breakfast reception, brunch tastings, wristband for unlimited rides, and a $7 game card; and
• VIP Event with Parking ($175), which includes breakfast reception, brunch tastings, wristband for unlimited rides, a $7 game card, and a reserved parking pass to Lot 1 North.

About SMMEF
Established in 1982 by a dedicated group of parents, community leaders, and local business owners, SMMEF enhances and supplements the curriculum of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. SMMEF’s mission is to engage the community to invest in a vibrant educational experience for all students in the Santa Monica and Malibu public schools. The Foundation works hand-in-hand with the District to allocate funds in ways that result in the greatest impact. To learn more about SMMEF visit www.smmef.org, follow on Twitter: @smmef or like SMMEF on Facebook: www.facebook.com/smmef.

About Pacific Park
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, LA’s only admission free amusement park, offers 12 amusement rides, 17 midway games, an oceanfront food plaza and retail shops. In addition to the Pacific Wheel, the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, Pacific Park’s signature rides include The West Coaster, a steel roller coaster that races 55 feet above the Santa Monica Bay; and Inkie’s Air Lift Balloon Ride, the high-flying, family-sharing kids’ ride. For additional information and hours of operation, call 310-260-8744, visit www.pacpark.com, follow on Twitter: @pacpark and Like at Facebook: www.facebook.com/pacificpark.

SANTA MONICA AT ITS BEST AND BRIGHTEST TUESDAY

Tonight, at 6:30, A DEBATE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF SANTA MONICA will get underway in Council Chambers, City Hall. It will be long and heated, and crucial.

Virtually simultaneously, at 6 and again at 8, across Fourth Street and up the
hill in Barnum Hall, Cathedral Classics Concert will feature the Chamber Singers
and Madrigal Ensemble, Samohi’s most advanced choirs, performing their European
Tour repertoire.

Tickets are available only at the door. $10 donation for adults, $5 for Students
and Seniors. Free Parking at the Civic Center Lot

Five centuries of choral music, including works by Palestrina, Byrd, Pachelbel, Sweelinck, Lotti and Whitacre, and four early American folk hymns will be performed. All will be conducted by Jeffe Huls, Santa Monica High School’s Director of Choral Music.

The choirs will also present the American premier of a newly commissioned choral
work entitled “The Blessing of Aaron” by composer Julia Seeholzer, a Samohi alum
and Fulbright scholar.

The foyer of historic Barnum Hall is the setting for these intimate concerts; the acoustics mimic those of the glorious cathedrals and historic venues of Holland, Brussels and France, in which our students have recently performed.

Following the film will be a Q&A with Director Varda Bar-Kar and Samohi’s Director
of Choral Music Jeffie Huls.

You can ask the City Council to approve a zoning code revision that will preserve
our gloriously idiosyncratic beach town and its priceless and unique assets AND
you can attend the concert – at 6 or 8 – which vividly demonstrates why residents must prevail.

We have made a town like no other, and we must keep it.

RESIDOCRACY = A COMMUNITY NETWORK OF RESIDENTS

ONE NIGHT?

Only one night of comment at City Council on the Zoning Ordinance Update???

For more than two years residents lobbied the Planning Commission for zoning that would preserve the quality of life in our beach town.

We were ignored.

When Council scheduled just one night – April 14 – to hear comments from the community before they vote on this key document, we asked for more time.

We were ignored again.

The zoning document now before Council will allow development that is Too Tall, Too Big, Too Much.

We will not be ignored.
,
Join us at City Hall, Tuesday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m.1685 Main Street

Don’t forget to to Read and Sign

Sign the E-Petition Today – Click Residocracy.org and sign.

Copyright © 2015 Residocracy, All rights reserved.
receive important Residocracy notifications
Our mailing address is: Residocracy, 1112 Montana Ave, #358
Santa Monica, CA 90403

RESTORING SANTA MONICA

Santa Monica architecture accurately reflects its ages – Victorian, Craftsman,
Spanish Colonial, Streamline Moderne, modernist, contemporary. And bloody
awful.

The original buildings in the Civic Center – the Streamline Moderne City Hall,
the Civic Auditorium, 1950s courthouse and three original RAND buildings –
were all modest in scale and rode very lightly on the land, as did John Byers’
Spanish Colonial houses and duplexes, and the graceful one and two-story
garden apartments that once flourished here.

Early on, the swells from Hancock Park and Pasadena built 11 luxe private
clubs on the beach and large summer houses on the wide, serene streets north
of Montana, even as blue collar workers built cottages at the beach in Ocean
Park. All but three of the beach clubs vanished years ago, and the cottages
were razed to make way for the Shore Towers and Sea Colonies I and II, a
major misfortune.

The movies came to town in a big way in the late 1920s and 1930s. There
were three fledgling studios in town, and industry titans and stars built
castles in the sand on the beach they called the Gold Coast.

America was torn to pieces by the Great Depression, but the Golden Age of
Movies attracted an overwhelming number of people – 80 percent of every-
one, Hollywood said, — every week, and America learned how to be modern.

Film stars and Pasadena bluebloods in evening clothes regularly took speedboats
from the west end of the Santa Monica Pier to the gambling ships that were
moored out in the Pacific just beyond the three-mile limit.

Santa Monica couldn’t make a mistake, it seemed, though its attempt to
create a yacht harbor adjacent to the Pier failed, and its yachts were soon
replaced by commercial fishing boats.

In the early 1920s, Donald Douglas designed the World Cruiser in the back
room of a barber shop on Pico, built four on Douglas Field at 26th Street
and Wilshire and rolled them through town to Clover Field, where the
wings were attached to the fuselages. The four pilots set out to fly around
the world in 1924, and three of them succeeded.

Before and during World War II, the enormous Douglas plant employed 22,000
people and ran 24 hours a day, making war planes for America and its allies.
Ever the visionary, Douglas built the Aero theater on Montana, which ran films
24 hours a day so that his workers, whatever their shifts, could go to the
movies. When the jet age began, Douglas Aircraft moved to Long Beach, leaving
nothing behind but the Aero.

The mammoth plant was replaced by houses, hundreds of them, and a “business
park” that was an anomaly in Santa Monica – until the 1980s when developers,
in concert with City Hall, filled the semi-dormant light industrial area
20th and Stewart Streets Street with oversized, pretentious luxe office build-
ings.

Artists in all media have found this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town
inspiring and encouraging. One of the sons of the manager of the old
Arcadia Hotel, Stanton MacDonald Wright, dazzled Paris with his abstract
paintings in 1913. Walter Hopps, possibly America’s most brilliant curator,
mounted the first exhibit of west coast expressionism, Action I, in the Pier
carousel in 1954. Figurative painter Richard Diebenkorn made the leap to
abstract expressionism in his radiant “Ocean Park series,” which guaran–
teed him a place in the pantheon. Charles and Ray Eames reinvented
furniture, even as Frank Gehry reinvented architecture, and the Z Boys re-
invented skate boarding. John Baldessari and Sam Francis kept the home
fires leaping and lively. Ed Ruscha and Michael McMillen continue to work
on the aesthetic horizon.

All of that, and much more is in the muscle and bone of our town. As
novelist William Faulkner said, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”
Santa Monica’s past has accumulated, all 138 years of it — in fact
and memory, tangible and intangible, and been the substance out of
which each succeeding generation has emerged and made its mark.

But in the last 30 years, the natural rhythm of Santa Monica has been
interrupted. The good has been replaced by the quick, the vital by the
profitable. Since the mid-1980s, 9 million square feet of new commercial
buildings have risen in this small scale radiant beach town, and
thrown it akimbo, because City Hall persists in seeing it as means, not
end – a business, not a town.

City Hall, in collaboration with a very cooperative City Council (they
took campaign contributions from developers) allowed developers to
destroy graceful garden apartments and small apartment buildings and
replace then with “luxury” condos and hotels and “mixed use” buildings
of no discernible distinction – except that they were very profitable.

Santa Monica, the business, was “hot.” In the last several years, its
annual budget doubled to half-a-billion dollars. The City Manager made
more money than President Obama. An astonishing number of employees made
over $300,000 a year. Very big business.

A couple of years ago, the City Council christened the entire town “a
marketing and promotion district,” instantly demoting its 90,000 residents
to extras, and doubling the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s annual budget
to $5 million, though the daily transient population is now 300,000, and
congestion and gridlock are the rule. World class traffic jams.

In its first mega-business deal, the City’s Community Corp, and Related, the
nation’s largest developer of apartments, recently completed a major joint
venture: 134 affordable apartments for rent, 134 $2 million “luxury condos”
for sale, and a sprinkling of stores and restaurants. Among other piquant
features, it violated major portions of the zoning code.

30+ commercial projects are now in the pipeline, but Santa Monica has
been built out for some time, and so if all the new projects are to be built,
authentic, vintage and irreplaceable pieces of Santa Monica will have
to make way for something new and bigger and better — like “packs and
stacks,” in which large closets are called studio apartments.

A couple of years ago, at a Chamber of Commerce “State of the City”
breakfast, now departed City Manager Ron Gould said, “many worry
that the approaching building boom will lead to a loss of identity and
more congestion.” But it was just an observation, not a call for action.
And city planners, in concert with the Planning Commission, and assorted
developers, went right on subverting the Planning Code revision.

On Tuesday, the Commission will present the revision to the City
Council for its approval. Residents, in large numbers, will object
to the revision, because it is not only thoroughly objectionable, it is
unworkable. The Council majority of four, which took office a few
months ago, Mayor Kevin Mckeown, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez,
Sue Himmelrich and Ted Winterer do not take campaign contributions
from developers – unlike their predecessors – and have been critical
of the revision, and deplored City Hall’s pro-business posture. In addi-
tion, they obviously take their oaths to represent the people seriously —
unlike the minority of three.

On the other hand, if it all goes off the rails and is approved as is, Resido-
cracy will escalate its current e-petition campaign and veto the revision.

Our town. Our turn. Now.

TOWARD A BETTER ZONING CODE

By SMa.r.t. on April 11, 2015 in Columns

The City Council is getting ready to approve a controversial new Zoning Code.
Many would describe the currently proposed code as incentivizing development
instead of managing it for a more neighborly, sustainable City. While the pro-
posed Zoning Code has many contentious parts, the most significant controversy centers on the Boulevards where the proposed changes will directly impact the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Fortunately, the City Council still has an opportunity to rectify this when they give it its final review on April 15.

A good place to begin would be with the five proposed Activity Centers. These are high- intensity commercial zoning districts proposed along the major boulevards- three on Wilshire and one each on Lincoln/ Ocean Park, Broadway/Colorado, and Olympic/Colorado. All would allow special heights and densities. These “Godz-illas” will rise to 70′ (88′ including roof structures) along the major boulevards crushing the adjacent residences with their traffic, solar shading and noise. Remember that on Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. there are already two hospital districts (HMU-Tier 2) with similar heights. These new Activity Centers will
only add to the buildings that are already out of scale with our City’s urban
fabric being more similar in size to the Beverly Center or the Westside Pavilion. Since there are already plenty of development possibilities along our mostly one
and two-story boulevards, these special districts are unnecessary. In addition, since the Subway to the Sea will not reach these areas in the foreseeable future,
the reason for their existence no longer exists. Even if the proposed subway to
the seas were to come to Santa Monica, it will likely only provide a moderate decrease in traffic. For example, studies have shown that the proposed subway
would only reduce the traffic on the 10 Freeway by 1%. This is another reason why the oversized Activity Centers are decades too early and should be eliminated from the code.

The Tier 3 projects on the boulevards should be eliminated for similar reasons.
Tier 3 projects get height and area bonuses over and above the underlying zoning
but suffer from the same drawbacks as the Activity Centers. Some would argue that the “community benefits” outweigh the detriment to the residents but experience has proven otherwise. The Community typically gets marginal benefits compared to the developer’s massive increase in profits and associated negative impacts. But the
real problem with the Development Agreements is that they allow exceeding the –
codes through secret negotiations with the City staff that are invisible to the residents. The DA’s are typically poorly written and result in negative impacts
that far overshadow any meager benefits. For example the reduction in parking requirements allowed to Agensys did not, in fact, reduce their use of the automo-
bile as they have had to rent over 100 spaces of additional offsite parking for
their employees at the Bergamot Station. This shifting of a project’s impact on adjacent areas is not unusual for large projects approved under the DA process.This is the reason that Tier 3 allowed under the DA process, with all its inherent flaws, should not be included in the new code.

There are several other areas related to the Boulevards where the new Zoning Code needs significant rebalancing. For example, originally when lots were consolidated, the project’s floor area had to be reduced slightly to discourage the creation of gargantuan, monolithic buildings. Those floor area reductions have been eliminated
in the current proposed code, resulting in larger buildings with their associated outsized mass and impacts. Another misplaced incentive is that Tier 2 projects (another height and area bonus but slightly less than Tier 3) require only an administrative approval effectively, and dangerously, bypassing neighborhood input. With all this incentivized canyonization of our relatively sunny and open boulevards, the proposed code still does not mandate any required space open to the sky along our boulevards. If there were such a requirement, it would help to relieve the monotony of the marching facades by providing some visual penetrability into the fabric of the City. Additional residential protections were eliminated when the so called A lots north of Wilshire lost their residential zoning. Perhaps the largest shift is that many of the Boulevards have gone from a Neighborhood Commercial designation to Mixed Use Commercial Zoning. This up zoning will allow a significant jump in height, mass and impact that the neighborhoods have resisted and the City does not need. The Boulevards with their current neighborhood commercial heights should be maintained.
Finally, the proposed Code has struggled mightily to try to solve the City’s transit problems. While everyone hopes to ameliorate the City’s long term parking and gridlock issues, this Zoning Code still needs to deal with current transit issues. For example, it mandates unbundled parking whereby tenants do not get automatic use of their parking spaces but have to buy (or rent them) from the building owners. This is a well meaning but uncertain experiment to solve the common problem of insufficient parking spaces with its attendant neighborhood spill over. The idea is that persons who do not have cars, would not have to pay for spaces they don’t use presumably making their units more affordable. In addition, shared spaces might make parking lots and structures more efficient because they could be used jointly by tenants or visitors at different times. In reality, this will probably lead to speculation by developers who now get to sell or rent two items- the unit and along with its parking. Although we do need to incentivize the shift to fewer cars, some solutions should be experimental until we see if bike lanes, the EXPO line and other transportation demand management initiatives really do reduce the number of car trips.
Other significant areas for the Council to review but not addressed in this article include: 1) height reductions, decreased FAR on the boulevards; 2) limiting planning director’s authority; 3) intrusion of commercial parking into residential neighbor=
hoods; 4) increased medical space without requiring additional parking; 5) TDM’s (Traffic Demand Management) that allow a reduction in parking … and many more! Next week the City Council has a last chance and we would say responsibility to rebalance the proposed biased Zoning Code toward a more sustainable and neighborly future. More importantly, the last day for Community input to the City Council is April 14 and you have the opportunity to help the City Council do the responsible thing by showing up and testifying for a better and balanced Zoning Code. Please be there.

Mario Fonda-Bonardi, AIA for SMa.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)
Ron Goldman FAIA, Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Daniel Jansenson Architect, Samuel Tolkin AIA, Armen Melkonians Civil & Environmental Engineer, Phil Brock Chair, Parks & Recreation Commission. For previous articles, see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

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SANTA MONICA’S FUTURE IS AT STAKE

All California towns are required by the state to revise their general plans every
20 years to ensure that the towns are in synch with their residents and reflect their aspirations.

At a joint meeting in 2005, the City Council and the Planning Commission approved
12 “emerging themes” that were culled from a variety of forms, questionnaires, ess-
ays and interviews filed by residents in the initial round of the revision process.

If the City administration and planning staff had paid attention to residents 11 years ago, we would not be currently engaged in a royal battle with City Hall over Santa Monica’s future. We want to preserve this singular town, while City Hall seems determined to turn it into a very profitable business.

The 12 themes as expressed by residents and described in the City’s “Initial Out-
reach, Assessment, and Emerging Themes Report” in 2005 were: “A unique city with a strong sense of community. A city rich in amenities, within walking distance to
shops and services from neighborhoods. A diverse and inclusive city. A community built at an appropriate town-scale. A city of strong neighborhoods, protected from commercial and industrial uses. A pedestrian and bicycle-friendly place. A city
rich in its array of transit offerings. A city where traffic and parking work.A
city of balanced growth. A city with attractive boulevards. A safe and secure community. An environmentally sustainable place.”

Residents were not only in favor of the “themes” as organized by the City, but
mildly surprised by the City’s acceptance of them, as its commercial development policies had become increasingly aggressive in the 1990s – to the dismay of an increasing number of residents.

But representatives of leading business and commercial interests at the meeting instantly savaged “Emerging Themes.”

Kathy Dodson, then-CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, said, “the emerg-
ing themes seem to ignore the economy and its effect on Santa Monica…[such as] City revenue from business- related taxes, job creation for residents and the diversity and richness of the business community.” She concluded by saying the omissions occurred because the City had not sought “enough business input.”

Dodson’s remarks were echoed by attorney Kevin Kozal, from Harding. Larmore, et al, the developers’ leading advocate. He criticized the City for not talking to such “stakeholders” as “major employers, healthcare providers such as St. John’s Hospital and the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, and education leaders from Santa Monica College (SMC) and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.”

A member of the Bayside District Corporation Board (a.k.a. Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.) Warfel said the themes lacked “a regional context,” while architect David Hibbert pointed out the themes did not deal with “changes” that are inevitable.

Warfel recently “sold” a proposal, the Plaza at Santa Monica to City Hall. To be located at Fourth and Arizona, it’s too big, an ungainly mix of things that downtown Santa Monica already has or doesn’t need. Staff likes it. Residents don’t.

President of Friends of Sunset Park, a neighborhood organization, Zina Josephs reported that her group conducted its own survey of Sunset Park residents, and that two key neighborhood issues, the impacts of Santa Monica Airport and Santa Monica College were not reflected in the emerging themes.

Landmarks Commission Chair Roger Genser spoke about the “absence of arts in the document.”

The Planning Commission voted to accept the themes and recommend that the Council approve them, as well as suggesting that the City also study health, education, small business, arts, cultural and regional issues, as part of its work on the General Plan update.

The Council also accepted the “emerging themes” and instructed staff to investigate preservation of existing affordable housing, continued improvement of City services, open space, airport issues and child care and universal access/mobility issues.

In fact, after the review, the “emerging themes” were never seen again. The planners and their ever-present consultants started all over again and focused much more attention on the business community.

“Emerging Themes” morphed into “Opportunities and Challenges,” about the same time that City Hall abruptly stopped referring to residents as “shareholders,” and called everyone “stakeholders.”

In 2008, tired of waiting for the General Plan re-vision and increasingly disturbed by the number, size and general mediocrity of the projects that were compromising more and more areas in Santa Monica, residents put Prop T on the ballot, which would limit annual commercial growth to 75,000 square feet. While it was supported by thousands of residents and many serious organizations, it was attacked by virtually everyone in City Hall – except City Council members Kevin McKeown and Bobby Shriver. Quite a number of so-called “civic leaders” became shills for the developers, who put $700,000 into an anti-Prop T campaign funded by developers and run by former mayor Judy Abdo and self-anointed “renowned environmentalist” Terry O’Day. Prop T was killed. Our public servants had become public enemies, as someone recently noted..

Heavily edited by City planners, ambitious architects, developers and other business interests, the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) was approved in 2010 – five years late, misbegot, and thoroughly compromised.

Now, five years later, the Planning Commission has forwarded the final zoning code revision to the Council for its approval. It’s over 500 pages, and laden with pro-development policies and priorities, even as it virtually ignores residents’ often-repeated objections to what they see as profound flaws that will diminish
this gloriously idiosyncratic town.

The Council will hear from residents Tuesday night and devote Wednesday night to
its deliberations,

The longtime Council majority — Pam O’Connor, Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis and Bob Holbrook — who took campaign contributions from developers and approved their projects, was replaced last fall by a new majority – mayor Kevin McKeown, mayor
pro tem Tony Vazquez,Ted Winterer and Sue Himmelrich. They do not take contribu-
tions from developers and have been very critical of a number of proposed projects.

And they and all residents are armed now – with Residocracy, a form of direct democracy devised by Armen Melkonians, that gives them veto power, and enabled residents to veto the Hines project that they had opposed from its inception. Here and now, Residocracy is collecting g-petitions to use if the Council approves the misbegot zoning code revision without making major improvements, as noted by the Sma*r*t architects. (see lead .article above).