It probably won't get sweeter than this, City Council members seemed to say Wednesday of the package of "community benefits" negotiated with a developer who owns and intends to close one of Santa Monica's two remaining mobile home parks.
In a 4-2 vote, the council approved an agreement that allows 377 apartments and condos and nearly 25,000 square feet of retail outlets to be built where Village Trailer Park stands today, on the eastern edge of Santa Monica. Gleam Davis and Kevin McKeown voted against the agreement.
Additionally, it OK'd a state mandated environmental review that found the project, called "The East Village, would create "significant" and "unavoidable" traffic impacts.
The agreement was required because the land was zoned strictly for mobile homes and child care uses. In exchange for green-lighting the commercial development, the agreement offers relocation options and benefits for residents who will lose their trailer spaces at the park once it's developed. After negotiating for six years, some of the council members said the those benefits weren't likely to get any better.
"These options were hard fought," said councilman Terry O'Day at Wednesday's meeting.
Many of the residents, some of whom are elderly, have fought the development since 2006. They've described Village Park as tight-knit community void of crime and altogether irreplaceable.
O'Day and the other council members who voted in favor of the development agreement—Mayor Richard Bloom, Bob Holbrook and Pam O'Connor—pointed to the project being smaller by 28,490 square feet than what was originally proposed. They also highlighted that plans call for retaining 10 of the 109 trailer spaces while they initially proposed saving none. (Fewer than 40 of the spaces are currently occupied).
"I thought the previous plan was a win-win, but [after] hearing from the community, it became clear... [this] is a better plan because it leaves some people on site," said owner Marc Luzzatto.
Displaced residents will chose from among a number of options valued between $18,000 and $85,000. One of the more popular will likely be the option to move into a new manufactured trailer—paid for the developer—at at Mountain View Mobile Home Park. That option and three others also include $1,500 payments for moving costs.
None of the options, however, include a requirement the developer pay for the "in-place" value of the trailers being located in Santa Monica.
"One concern we share is [that] the people who live on this property now be failry treated and not evicted without an recourse," said councilman McKeown.
He called the community benefits "questionable," especially because of the strain relocating will put on elderly residents.
One of the most ardent opponents of the development, Village Trailer Park resident Brenda Barnes, said Mountain View Trailer Park is on "the wrong side of town."
It's a "totally unacceptable alternative," she said.
Other community benefits include: a $1.65 million payment to the city to improve transportation infrastructure in the area; $350,000 for services for seniors, the disabled and families with children; and $179,000 in childcare tuition subsidies.
Outgoing councilman Bobby Shriver was absent from the meeting.