Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Trailer Park Development Approved
|By Jason Islas
March 21, 2013 -- After more than two months of closed-session discussion, the City Council voted to approve a 377-unit development on the site of one of Santa Monica's two remaining trailer parks Tuesday.
Approval came after Council member Gleam Davis, one of four Council members who voted in December to rescind a previous iteration of the development agreement (DA), decided that the new project plan would provide enough affordable housing.
“My concern back in December when we addressed this issue was the affordable housing,” said Davis. “Those concerns have been met.”
The developer scuttled plans to have a mix of condominiums and apartments in the new project after disagreements arose about the number of affordable units required.
The new DA, which would make all 377 units apartments, provides that 41 units be set aside as “very low income,” more than the 10 percent required by the City's Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) requirements. ("New DA for Santa Monica Trailer Park Could End Two-Month Stalemate," March 2013)
At the direction of the Council, Village Trailer Park co-owner Marc Luzzatto also agreed to trade six of the “very low income” units and replace them with three “extremely low income” units. Under the City's AHPP requirements, one “extremely low income” unit counts as two “very low income” units.
Still, not everyone was happy with the revised DA.
“It appears that we are actually getting fewer affordable units out of this configuration than we should have gotten out of the old configuration,” said Council member Kevin McKeown who led the 4-to-3 vote in December to rescind the DA.
The previous DA would have designated nine units as “very low income” and seven as “extremely low income.” The developers had also agreed to donate 14,400 square feet -- estimated to be worth of $2.5 million -- of their parcel to the City in order to keep 10 trailers on the site.
McKeown said that earlier configuration should have had some 60 or 70 affordable units in it because of the apartment/condo mix and he didn't like the fact that the land would no longer be donated to the City, though it would still house as many as 10 trailers for residents who wished to remain on the site.
Council member Ted Winterer, who, along with Council member Tony Vazquez voted to rescinded the DA in December, echoed McKeown's sentiment, referring to the the residual parcel as a potential “disaster.”
Vazquez joined McKeown and Winterer Tuesday in voting against the project because he wanted Luzzatto to commit to abiding by any Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that the City might require of developers in the future.
Luzzatto maintained that he couldn't make a commitment without first knowing the financial impact of a PLA on the project.
Council member Bob Holbrook, Mayor Pam O'Connor and Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day all voted to approve the project.
“This has been a very difficult road, but I think that last night’s result represents a good step in the direction of allowing us to move forward in a positive way,” Luzzatto told The Lookout Wednesday.
Tuesday's vote would also mean the end of a pending $50 million lawsuit Luzzatto and his partners filed against the City in January. The suit alleged that when the Council voted to rescind the DA in December after passing it in November, it welched on a deal negotiated after the park owners decided to close the park in 2006.
Under state law, the owners were required only to give residents' one year notice before closing the park, but the City negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding to allow the park to stay open until the DA was negotiated.
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