MEMO TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION: JUST SAY NO!
On Wednesday night, the Planning Commission will review the voluminous
Staff report on a mega-mixed use project that requires wiping out the Village Trailer Park, which has long been a pastoral presence on Colorado Avenue.
The report recommends that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council approve the “sufficiency of the tenant impact report, certify the Environmental Impact Report, and approve the Development Agreement.”
Reading the seemingly endless report is thoroughly depressing, rather like spending an evening with Dr. Pangloss. Surely you remember Voltaire’s CANDIDE, in which Dr. Pangloss was relentlessly cheerful in the most dismal circumstances. Indeed, recent planning staff reports suggest that the City planners are all graduates ofthe School of Pangloss.
As it lurches toward the mandatory happy ending, the report says, “the proposed Development Agreement will not be detrimental to the health, safety and general welfare, in that while the project requires the closure of Village Trailer Park and displacement of 56 households, the development agreement includes a relocation plan that provides a wide range of options for replacement housing for residents. Further, the options are based on the principle that all existing households have the opportunity to move the replacement housing that will not substantially increase their housing costs.”
That’s not a “principle.” That’s nonsense. The “displacement of 56 households” is a tragedy in the making. Most of the residents of the trailer park are accomplished older people who don’t have much money, cherish the simplicity of their lives, their gardens, their neighbors and the unique community that they have created. They are not interested in “relocation” or “replacement housing” or “a wide range of options.” They are longtime Santa Monica residents, who want to stay where they are, and get on with their lives –- like virtually every other resident. .
In addition, the Village Trailer Park is itself historically significant, an authentic relic from a very different time that should be preserved, not destroyed to make room for another mixed use mega-complex.
The Panglossian planners natter on. The proposed project itself “will not be detrimental to the health, safety, and general welfare as the design emphasizes walkability, with the introduction of two new streets and approximately 35,000 square feet of ground floor open space. The open space includes an approximately 2,250 square feet park-like setting on Stanford Street. The proposed project also includes on-site short-term and long-term bicycle storage and parking, far in excess of the standards contemplated in the City’s recently adopted Bicycle Action Plan. These pedestrian and bicycle facilities coupled with the project’s required Transportation Demand Management program are intended to contribute to trip reduction goals for the Bergamot area.”
“Two new streets….an approximately 2,250 square feet park-like setting…on-site short-term and long-term bicycle storage and parking, far in excess of the standards contemplated in the City’s recently adopted Bicycle Action Plan…” The planners can’t be serious. They’re ready to displace 56 households to make way for two new streets, a “park-like setting” and an excess of bikes. Apparently, they haven’t noticed that the Village Trailer Park is, in fact, an actual park.
And speaking of excess, the proposed project will contain retail space, offices, and 486 apartments and condominiums. Drop 486 new apartments, SROs and condos into a pleasant residential neighborhood that’s already tied in knots by ever-increasing traffic, i.e., gridlock, and watch its “health and welfare” deteriorate.
Dr, Pangloss was especially fond of saying, “This is the best of all possible worlds.” There was a time, not so long ago, when the gloriously idiosyncratic beach town we inhabit actually was the best of all possible worlds. Not now. Not until we order our so-called leaders to cease and desist their relentless reduction of our town to a product.
We have the power. We simply have to use it. Read the report. Email the Council members. Attend the meeting. Just say NO.