City Will Review These Development Proposals First

There's a record number of development agreement applications flowing into Santa Monica City Hall—too many for the City Council to review at once. So which ones will get the first crack?

The City Council established on Tuesday a "priority list" of development proposals it will fast-track through its review process.

The projects include "affordable" and family housing and high revenue generating commercial developments that aren't likely to create a lot of new traffic.

These are the priority projects:

  1. Commercial projects anticipated to generate lots of sales tax revenue for the city but that are not anticipated to create more traffic, such as hotels, auto dealerships and movie theaters. 
  2. Housing projects that designate 15 percent of the units affordable to tenants  with "very low" incomes, defined as 50 percent of the area's median income. Additionally, at least 5 percent of the units have to be affordable to tenants at 80 percent of AMI, or "moderate" income.
  3. Housing projects that have a maximum of 20 percent studios and a minimum of 20 percent 2-bedroom units and 10 percent 3-bedroom units. 
  4. Schools, colleges, and other educational institutions.
  5. Projects that are required priorities under settlement agreements.

The council decided on the list because it is unable to keep up with the number of development agreements washing into City Hall. As of Tuesday, the number was 35. At least three of the applications are for new hotels and the expansion of the Fairmont-Miramar.

"We can only work on so many projects in the next year—we’re not going to get to 35," said councilman Kevin McKeown.

Development agreement applications were previously reviewed in the order they were received.

See also:

City Council Responds to Request to Slow Down Development

Santa Monica Now Juggling 32 Development Applications

Councilwoman's Snake Metaphor Explains Lots of Development

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Brenda Barnes February 15, 2013 at 05:33 AM
I can tell you have real experience with this, Frank, unlike our Council, who believe if a train comes here magically everyone will ride it, and the Tourist and Visitors' Bureau fully funded by the City tells them what they want to hear--that 70% of visitors don't use their cars while they are here. Wonder how they get anywhere. The taxis they use don't count as traffic? They take buses universally panned in the guidebooks? The Bike Center has "hundreds" of customers, not anything like the 200,000 a DAY that come into SM from somewhere else. I do see a few walking in downtown once in awhile when I make myself go there. But if those few are 70% of the total, I've got some swamp land in Arizona to sell.
Brenda Barnes February 15, 2013 at 07:12 AM
I can't stand to attend Council meetings and hear all the lying, so I try watching video a little at a time, but even then, the lying makes me so sick I can't bear it. For instance, Tuesday that same Francie Stefan who does pedestrian and bike planning made a staff report on traffic circulation and parking. She said with such a wide-eyed innocent look that it is hard to believe it, but 50,000 people ride the Big Blue Bus every day!!! The Council falls for that being a very large number, and la dee da, on we go to another subject. The truth is--and this is the Council, so they should know something about what is really involved in this City--the visitors bureau they fund says 200,000 people a day come from somewhere else to SM. So if 50,000 people ride buses, not all from outside SM, that means at LEAST 150,000 people a day come into SM from somewhere else and DO NOT ride buses. What are they using to get here? 4.5% on streets are bike riders, looks like about the same walk, which means about 100,000 or so visitors drive. This does not even include people who come from somewhere else to WORK in SM. Neither does it count trips of SM residents themselves. So the elephant in the room is car trips. LUCE says NO NEW NET CAR TRIPS. As long as people keep lying about what the subject is, and hiding how serious the car problem is, we'll never get anywhere toward solving it. I say get Council members who will learn basic facts and not get snowed by lying staff.
Gary Kavanagh February 15, 2013 at 08:33 PM
A) the priority is 20% maximum, not 20% required, meaning that proposals with too many studios by the council's metric are getting booted to lower priority. B) building 20% studios in a new building is *not* 20% of the population, it's a tiny fraction of the total units of our city population and residential mix. C) some people can't afford more than a studio in the Santa Monica market, students, some seniors, people getting started in a career looking to save up before the move to anything larger. Not all of these people are "transient", I've lived in the same neighborhood of Santa Monica for 7 years, but several different apartments. We have a lot of people who work here but don't live here, effecting lopsided traffic influx. D) Solipsism: the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. E) Ref D: Not everyone wants to live life the way you do, not everyone has the privilege to live life as you do at any given time. There are plenty of people looking for studios, and if you look at Craigslist postings of how many people are renting out extra bedrooms in 2+ bedroom apartments, it's clear that simply building only bigger apartments ends up with non-related adults or students splitting to save cash. Some of those people might prefer their own space but are priced out of our market or there just aren't the smaller units available.
Gary Kavanagh February 15, 2013 at 09:10 PM
If Francie Stephan said 50K, that's actually conservatively underselling Big Blue Bus, perhaps an old number, or just present off season number. Average daily ridership is reported at closer to 70K & has been growing according to the Bus system's latest figures. The SMC bus stop, highest ridership bus stop in the system, also gets more ridership when school is in session than most Metro LA train platforms. Don't forget the Metro LA system serves Santa Monica as well, often with overlapping service, & with a larger fleet of double length high capacity buses. It's hard for those with a stuck in traffic mindset to imagine, but there are actually more bus travelers on Wilshire Blvd. at peak times than drivers. Cars take up an order of magnitude more space per person, masking that. Parsing out exactly how many people are using LA Metro buses primarily for going to and from Santa Monica is harder to calculate, but any number that is only citing Big Blue Bus ridership, is *not* a full picture of what's going on. Also not included in those figures is private tourist centric bus operators. My understanding is that the estimated 200,000 influx for daily population does include people coming into work, it's an estimate for the whole non-resident daily population. Yes the car trips are a problem, but a lot more people already make trips in Santa Monica without cars than is typically given credit, & the Expo train and bike path completion will improve non-automotive access.
Brenda Barnes February 16, 2013 at 02:55 AM
The BBB manager was there too, and no one corrected the number. Moreover, this was trips, not people. If everyone went and came back, that would be 25,000 people. The other numbers I used were people, not trips, so that means the problem is up to twice as bad as I said. The point is, this is blatant misrepresentation of how bad the problem is. Moreover, the City goes ahead NOW approving more developments, with more new net car trips, while giving timelines for solving current problems to be made worse by the developments, which are years in the future.


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