SIX REASONS THE COUNCIL SHOULD NOT APPROVE VTP PROJECT
To comment on the Village Trailer Park project,
1) attend the Council meeting on July 24th at 6:30 PM at City Hall, and/or
2) send email re “7/24/12 agenda item 7-E” to the following:
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July 23, 2012
To: Mayor Bloom and City Council members
RE: Village Trailer Park development agreement – 7/24/12 agenda item 7-E
The Village Trailer Park has been described as an irreplaceable neighborhood with historic roots that has enabled affordable home ownership for low-income residents of Santa Monica for more than 50 years. If the city allows it to be destroyed, it can never be replicated.
I urge the City Council to do the following:
1. Direct staff and the developer to seriously consider the Alternate Project proposal presented by Ron Goldman to the Planning Commission. It would preserve the eastern half of the trailer park, while allowing the developer to build on the western half.
Mr. Goldman is an experienced architect, planner and builder, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects with degrees from Princeton and M.I.T and nearly 50 years of experience in the field. Mr. Luzzatto, who seems to have no prior experience in developing projects of this type, claimed that Mr. Goldman’s proposal would “not pencil out.” Mr. Goldman disagreed.
In the November 2007 Memorandum of Understanding, “VTP agrees that the Development Agreement Application review shall require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which would review a reasonable range of alternatives including, but not limited to, a resident owned mobile home park subdivision, and alternative rezones and projects (including reduced scale projects that would avoid or substantially lessen potentially significant environmental impacts as required by CEQA).”
The other concern for Sunset Park residents is that the current project will generate more than 2,000 new daily car trips. It is one of many large development projects in the pipeline or under construction in the Bergamot Area, totaling more than 2 million square feet, which will generate thousand of daily car trips through our neighborhood. A reduced project would reduce the impact of traffic on residential neighborhoods.
2. Delay approving additional Development Agreements in the Bergamot Area until the Bergamot Area Plan is completed. Why should the federal government waste over $600,000 giving a grant for the Area Plan to the City of Santa Monica if the city is going to continue approving millions of square feet of large developments before the plan is written and adopted?
3. Hire an expert consultant to do an independent assessment of all state and federal rules and laws regarding the closure of mobile home parks.
4. The Council should not feel obligated to approve the Development Agreement because of the November 2007 Memorandum of Understanding. “This MOU does not create in VTP any entitlements, rights or approvals for the use of the Property….The City cannot and does not prejudge or make any commitments regarding ultimate approval of the Development Agreement Application,…nor shall any part or all of this MOU be construed on the part of the City as an obligation to grant any permits, entitlements or approvals.”
5. The Council should not allow the developer to replace 109 rent control units, that are apparently not covered by vacancy decontrol under mobile home residency law, with only 11 rent control units. This is a “gift” to the developer that the City will apparently have to pay for — to the tune of more than $50 million over the next 50 years.
6. Eliminating Village Trailer Park would be the first time Santa Monica homeowners have been thrown out of their homes in nearly fifty years. In the 1950′s, the Belmar Triangle, an African-American neighborhood was destroyed by the City of Santa Monica in order to build Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Also in the 1950′s, “the city acquired 259 parcels of land along the beach south of south of Ocean Park Boulevard, displacing 316 families and 212 businesses, to build Santa Monica Shores.” The “affordable” apartments in The Shores now seem to rent for about $4,000 a month. In the 1960′s, the Santa Monica Freeway was built through the Pico neighborhood and, according the Los Angeles Times, “Nearly 600 families, mostly Latino and black, were displaced to make room for the freeway’s path.”
Will Village Trailer Park become another low-income neighborhood demolished for some perceived greater good? What is the perceived greater good here — preserving affordable homes for low-income residents, mature bushes and trees, a swimming pool and a club house, and a community of people who take care of each other — or destroying all that in order to build 5-story canyons of small, dark apartments and condos.
If the Village Trailer Park goes, what’s next — destroying homes in Sunset Park so the FAA can have its way at Santa Monica Airport and build Runway Protection Zones in the residential neighborhoods instead of building Runway Safety Areas on airport property?
Can we depend on the current City Council members to protect residents? We look forward to the Council’s decision on Village Trailer Park, as it will set a precedent for the future. We hope for the best.