As part of its commitment to its in progress Downtown Specific Plan to set height and density standards downtown, the City Council voted last Tuesday night to only study buildings slated for development that are below 84 feet in height.
The decision doesn’t put the kibosh on proposed projects over 84 feet, but it does mean that developers seeking greater height in their buildings will have to provide the city with Environmental Impact Reports at their own cost.
Among those projects is Frank Gehry’s proposed Ocean Avenue project that includes at 244 foot tower.
Following the council’s decision, the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City sent out the following statement to its supporters:
Dear Supporter of SMCLC,
Last Tuesday, the Santa Monica City Council recognized that when it comes to our downtown, residents aren’t just one of many stakeholders in our city: we are the key stakeholders.
For months, residents have been objecting to developer proposed projects, which would massively increase heights and densities along Ocean Avenue. We have insisted that the citywide maximum building height of 84 feet be the top height for study even as to the so-called “opportunity sites” downtown.
Residents' concerns were heard loud and clear: The Council agreed and voted unanimously to reject the staff proposal to study heights greater than 84 feet in our downtown for environmental review of the Downtown Specific Plan that is in the process of being drafted. Moreover, many of us believe that proposed heights and densities for the downtown will need to be scaled back once the full environmental impacts are disclosed next year. While no one can stop developers from filing their “pie in the sky” project applications, the burden is now extremely high for them to justify such projects which greatly exceed the Plan maximums.
Developers take note: Projects proposing faux community benefits and making greatly exaggerated claims of increased city revenues, while claiming negligible infrastructure and traffic impacts, will be subject to extraordinary scrutiny and opposition.
How Did We Win?
An array of individuals, SMCLC, the Santa Monica Transparency Project, and neighborhood organizations, came out in droves at every meeting on the downtown, and bombarded the City Council with emails and testimony demanding that land-use decisions reflect the historic, lower-scale profile we have, and not exacerbate traffic gridlock with huge, dense, poorly designed projects that degrade our quality of life and negatively impact our unique relationship to our beautiful coastline.
We'll keep you informed as the Downtown Plan moves forward in the spring. In the meantime, Tuesday night was a victory for all of us concerned about over-development and the traffic it brings. Thank you for your hard work.
Diana, Victor, Sherrill, and Jeff
What do you think of the City Council’s decision? Should height and density be limited in Downtown Santa Monica? Tell us below.