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Santa Monica City Council Gets Ready for Round Two on Hines Development

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

February 3, 2014 -- After hearing hours of public testimony last week on the proposed Bergamot Transit Village, the Santa Monica City Council will vote Tuesday on the controversial project.

And though the Council voted unanimously last week to close public testimony after the hours-long session on January 28, opponents of the proposed 767,000 square-foot project are trying to turn out people for the Council vote.

In an email to its members Friday titled “RALLY SAVE SANTA MONICA FROM MASSIVE HINES DEVELOPMENT,” the no-growth group, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) said, “The developer and its paid posse will surely be there when this vote is taken. Residents opposing this city planning disaster need to be there, too.

The emphasis is from the original email, which echoes claims by some opponents of the project made at Tuesday’s public hearing that those who support the project do so because they are paid by developers.

Opposition to the project is varied, but most who have voiced their objections cite traffic as their primary concern.

“Last week, Santa Monica residents packed City Hall to tell Council members that the Hines project at 26th and Olympic is too big for this already gridlocked area of our city,” SMCLC’s email reads, again with the original emphasis.

Others said that they would support the project if developers would agree to make it 100 percent residential, but the developer argues that such a plan wouldn’t be financially feasible.

As proposed, the plans by Texas-based developer Hines would replace the abandoned Papermate factory with a project that is roughly split between residential units and commercial space.

The project would also break up the Papermate lot with streets and public open space, at the developer’s expense. Hines has also agreed to pay $2 million toward a new park in the Pico Neighborhood that would act as buffer between residents and Expo Maintenance Facility under construction on Exposition Boulevard east of Stewart Street.

Proponents of the project proposed by the Texas-based developer Hines, point to the fact that it is walking distance from Bergamot’s future Expo Light Rail station, a fact which they say will mitigate the traffic impact of the commercial component of the project.

And, they also point out that the transit corridors like the Expo Line need dense development along them to help support Los Angeles’ growing light rail and subway network.

They have also argued that something needs to be built there to replace the massive Papermate factory before the Expo Light Rail opens in 2016.

Santa Monica’s representative in the State Assembly, Richard Bloom, an Ocean Park resident and former mayor, sent a letter to the Council last week that argued the importance of approving the project.

In the letter, he argued that Santa Monica is setting the tone for future transit oriented development since the region is watching the decision.

That’s one point that SMCLC agrees with Bloom.

“Both sides agree that the fate of the project will determine the future of development in Santa Monica,” the email reads, once again with the original emphasis.

“If this developer wins, the floodgates will open for the other 35 Development Agreements in the pipeline,” SMCLC wrote. “If this development is rejected, developers will be on notice that residents will no longer tolerate the status quo.”

SMCLC was joined in its opposition Tuesday by members of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), whose steering committee, under the direction of former mayor and SMRR co-founder Denny Zane, voted to oppose the Hines’ project.

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