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Santa Monica City Council Takes Closer Look at Past Development Agreements

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

January 30, 2014 -- The Santa Monica City Council Tuesday took an in-depth look at whether developers of major projects in the bayside city were making good on their promises.

Of the 26 development agreements (DAs) the City had approved since 1982, the Council found that nearly all of them had upheld their ends of the bargain in terms of providing community benefits to offset their impact.

The only problems were with the amount of traffic some of the projects generated, a major concern with residents who oppose development in the bayside city.

Several projects fell short of the car trip reduction goals set forth in their DAs.

“If we've not been able to make good on the promises we made in those negotiations” how will people trust that we will in future negotiations, Councilmember Kevin McKeown said.

The review showed that Colorado Center, St. John’s Health Center and the Agensys project had all fallen short of their goals to increase the number of employees carpooling or using public transit.

Each of the projects had not managed to meet their goals for “Average Vehicle Ridership” (AVR), the ratio of people to vehicles arriving at the worksite. The higher the AVR is, the less traffic employees create.

McKeown looked at the target set for Agensys project, an AVR of 1.6. Currently, Agensys has an AVR of 1.26, which McKeown called a “failure.”

St. John’s undershot its goal of 1.5 AVR, too, with 1.42 AVR. And, the numbers for the Colorado Center were roughly the same.

Staff said that they had actively been working with the owners of those developments to reach the goals set in the DAs.

One solution is the development of Transportation Management Associations, which would allow greater coordination between employees in a broader area.

Mayor Pam O’Connor said that the Associations could help establish van pools for employees in an entire district, rather than just one building.

And with the coming Expo Light Rail, some on the dais thought the AVR goals of transit-adjacent office spaces could go even higher.

“I'm hoping that going forward, we can be a whole lot more ambitious,” said Councilmember Ted Winterer.

The Agensys building, for example, will see its AVR requirement go from 1.6 to 1.75.

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