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Opposition to Santa Monica Transit Center Project Grows  


By Jorge Casuso

March 12, 2012 -- Opposition to a major commercial development at the old Papermate site in Santa Monica is growing, with leaders from five neighboring communities joining to oppose the Bergamot Village Transit Center Project on Olympic Boulevard.

Community and neighborhood leaders from Santa Monica, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, West LA, Mar Vista and Venice will hold a press conference in front of City Hall Monday to announce a new regional alliance formed to opposed the proposed 766,000-square-foot project.

The press conference comes less than one week after the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion asking Santa Monica to mitigate the traffic impacts of the project, which is planned to be the "gateway" to the city across the street from a future Expo Line station.

"We're very upset," said LA Council member Bill Rosendahl, whose district borders Santa Monica on three sides. "Everyone in my district is affected.

"Everyone is already in paralysis state," he said referring to the traffic gridlock. "I want to be at the table with my planning people and transportation people."

Last week the LA City Council voted to formally ask Santa Monica to mitigate nine LA traffic intersections impacted by the project or scale down the "size and magnitude" of the development less than three quarters of a mile from LA, which "is already burdened by traffic gridlock."

"The City of Los Angeles must protect the residents from project impacts and ensure that transportation infrastructure is not overburdened by the proposed project," read the motion made by Rosendahl and fellow Council member Paul Koretz.

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, which organized Monday's press conference, said in a statement released Friday that the proposed project would add some 8,000 new car trips every day to the area. The project would boost the total number of car trips generated by major projects in the vicinity to 24,000.

"This is alarming to all of us who live in Santa Monica and our LA neighbors," said Diana Gordon, the coalition's co-chair. "To do this without a regional or area plan is both city planning at its worst and a violation of the law.

"It's critical that Santa Monica work closely with other Westside communities to enact a comprehensive Master Plan for development and substantive traffic mitigations so that the quality of life throughout the Westside does not deteriorate markedly through piecemeal city planning," Gordon said.

The City Council voted 6 to 1 last August to direct staff to negotiate a development agreement after Texas developer Hines reduced the size of the project from nearly one million square feet, adding a new park and street, open spaces and walkways and varying the building heights and facades.

More than 50 speakers turned up to testify at the August 23 meeting, most of them to express concerns about the impacts the project would have on traffic.

The council had rejected the larger, more monolithic development in March.


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