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Sent: 1/8/2013 4:14:11 P.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: City Council 1/8/13 agenda item 5-A
January 8, 2013
To: City Council
From: Zina Josephs
RE: 1/8/13 agenda item 5-A — Development Agreement process
What is the vision for Santa Monica?
Millions of Southland residents come to enjoy the “beach” each year.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau sees a tourist mecca in “both a seaside town and bustling city” (as if it’s really possible to be both at the same time).
Downtown Inc. sees a “world-class shopping, dining and entertainment destination” with 6 million visitors a year.
The SMC Board of Trustees seems to envision a “College Town” with an ever-growing student enrollment, currently at 34,000.
The economic analysis presentation during the LUCE workshops envisioned people from San Diego to Santa Barbara coming to Santa Monica’s “hospital district.”
The Chamber of Commerce re-named the city “Silicon Beach” last January and works with the Santa Monica Alliance to bring even more businesses to Santa Monica, despite the jobs/housing imbalance.
But the developers and their architects, attorneys, and consultants seem to see the city simply as a “cash cow” to be crammed with as many densely built projects as they can get approved, and as quickly as possible.
The self-described “Architects and Planners for Responsible Growth” claim that “a development agreement slowdown would undermine critical LUCE objectives.” Let me remind you that the LUCE calls for about 5,000 housing units to be built by 2030, and yet 4,618 housing units are already being planned or are under construction, less than 2/12 years after the LUCE was approved. Who’s doing the undermining here?
This same group claims that “slowing down development agreements risks disrupting the jobs/housing balance.” The staff report shows over 500,000 sq ft of creative/arts/studio space currently being proposed. Are they at all worried about that making the current jobs/housing imbalance worse?
They say that “imposing arbitrary minimum unit sizes is contrary to good design and sound public policy.” Where was their concern about good design when a project was approved in November that had a 5-foot-wide 640-foot internal windowless hallway?
Where is their concern about the current DA proposals’ lack of very low and extremely low income housing units for people currently working in Santa Monica? Is that good public policy?
And their conclusion that since no schools or parks are planned in the Bergamot Area, therefore we shouldn’t worry about housing families there seems backward. Why not build housing for families in that area and include schools and parks in the plans, instead of creating a ghetto of tiny housing units for singles?
My basic question is, how many people, buildings, beach amenities, college towns, Silicon Beaches, tourist meccas, entertainment venues, restaurants, retail stores, office space (creative or otherwise), medical buildings, and new businesses can possibly be squeezed into 8 square miles before the city is ruined?
I sincerely hope that you will call a temporary halt to the Development Agreement process, before the tipping point into “undesirable place to live and raise a family” is reached. Unrestrained over-development in Santa Monica is kind of like climate change — it can only be ignored for so long before irreversible damage is done.