Council Rejects Appeal of $75 Million Santa Monica City Hall Annex



Stop the proposed 12-story (148-foot tall) "Plaza at Santa Monica" development project at 4th/5th and Arizona Ave. 

The proposed project at a glance:

Located between 4th and 5th Streets south of Arizona Avenue in the downtown area of the City of Santa Monica, the property consists of a little over 2.5 acres and is a "Resident-owned" property.

The City of Santa Monica is currently proposing to build a massive mixed-use commercial development project on this "Resident-owned" property.

The proposed project consists of the following:

  • 12-story (148-ft tall) high-rise
  • 420,000 sq. ft. of total building (nearly the same size as the Santa Monica Place Mall)
  • 225 room hotel
  • 200,000 sq. ft. of commercial work-space
  • 40,000 square feet of retail
  • 48 affordable housing residential apartment units

Impacts to Residents:

  • A commercial development located on this "Resident-owned" property would eliminate the potential for a grand 2.5-acre downtown green-space park for generations to come.
  • Severely alter the Santa Monica skyline.
  • Creating shadows from the 12 story (148-foot) tall structure.
  • Blocking the sun and ocean breezes.
  • Severely impact traffic and congestion.
4th/AZ is an E-Petition on the Residocracy site.

Last Tuesday developer NMS Properties and Neil Shekhter, its founder and CEO, were found by the Los Angeles Superior Court to have committed “massive, intentional, coordinated efforts to destroy evidence,” “fraud,” and “perjury.

Santa Monica tops statewide list for a variety of jobs:

  • Police Chief: $478,000, highest statewide.
  • Police Sergeant: $475,546 highest statewide.
    At $393,603, $385,000 and $380,000, Santa Monica police sergeants also occupied the 4th, 6th and 7th highest spots on the statewide list.
  • Deputy Police Chief: $455,914, highest statewide.
  • Assistant City Attorney: $442,414, highest statewide.
  • Assistant City Manager: $440,661, highest statewide.
  • City Attorney: $439,969, 2nd highest statewide.
  • Farmers’ Market Supervisor: $142,903.
  • Assistant City Librarian:$220,558.

This excess is pervasive throughout the City, with Santa Monica outspending its peers in total department wide spending as well:  (more)

SM Lookout News

Santa Monica traffic 'has finally hit the tipping point' 

LA Curbed article

"Sustainability on the backs of Santa Monica Residents"

SM Dispatch Article

By  on  in SMa.r.t. Thinking

Tue Oct 3, 7pm
Meet & Greet at 6:45
Montana Branch SM Library
1704 Montana Ave 90403

Poor sports on the playing field

By Charles Andrews on September 13, 2017 in Curious City  

SM Daily Press

When is parking a gotcha?

When it’s more valuable as an excuse to take away a long, long-promised playing field from our kids.

I don’t want to point any fingers — yet — but something stinky almost slipped through the cracks only a few know about. And if it turns out to be what it appears to be, then I THINK it’s high time you re-evaluated who your City government is working for. Here’s a clue: it may not be you, dear resident of Santa Monica.

I’m going to go basic with the facts, for those who don’t follow and obsess about the machinations of City Hall. Which is most of us. But thank goodness for those obsessive guardians who do.

Okay, there may be some opinion mixed in here. But you’ll know, because I’ll precede or follow it with an “I feel,” “some say,” “it seems.” Got it?

When a proposed construction is close enough to the coast, the state Coastal Commission has to rule yea or nay. I know that from personal experience because before our two apartment buildings where I live could, through the TORCA program in the mid-’80s, be converted to individual owner-occupied condos, we had to go before the mighty Coastal Commission. It was a gamble. Had they said nay, that was it, no recourse, we would have been stuck with two apartment buildings that, because of rent control laws, would have cost us all (11 partners) a pretty penny each year to own. 


We’ve got a few projects in the pipeline here that require it, and four are from the 2005 Santa Monica Civic Center Specific Plan:

— the renovation and re-opening of the historic Civic Auditorium;

— the Civic Center Sports Field (for use by adjacent Santa Monica High School);

— the City Hall addition (City Services Building);

— the Santa Monica College Early Childhood Lab School (ECLS, aka ECEC). which will be located in the Civic Center instead of somewhere many think more appropriate for dropping off rugrats, say in some residential area not in our extended downtown, say on the SMC Main Campus or on one of its many satellites. But that would be not nearly so convenient, many have opined, to City Hall staff with young’uns, and likewise Rand Corp. employees. Many years ago Rand contributed some half a million dollars to help finance that babysitting-babystudying building, just across the street from their headquarters, with of course the proviso that it be built there. It was so long ago that most people forgot or didn’t even know about that contribution, but now that we do it explains a lot. We’ve heard a lot of “it’s a done deal,” usually uttered with a slight growl, end of discussion.

But instead of submitting all four of those projects to the Coastal Commission at once, only the last two are before the Commission (both were scheduled for Sept. 14 but the entire Consent Calendar for our district was postponed). Why? 

Could it be that if both those projects are approved, with their required parking, that when it comes time to submit the playing field proposal to the Coastal Commission they will have to rule that there is no room left for parking for that field? The other two projects will have used it all up, and a bunch of it is in the current Civic Center parking lot where the playing field (desperately-needed, in the opinion of many residents, particularly parents and those involved in youth athletics) would be built. 


That playing field has been kicked down the road, ignored and even opposed by various factions (including school board officers) for some 12-15 years now. Why? Could it have anything to do with its proximity to the sacrosanct ECEC, which has “grow’d” like Topsy from its original dimensions? 

There are many things about those two submissions to the Coastal Commission that seem suspicious. As set forth in a “request for removal and postponement of items on the consent calendar” submitted by seven local residents:
 “(1) Applicants’ failure to give notice of submission to the Coastal Commission and lack

of public access to the Application files;

(2) Inappropriateness of the applications for consent calendar due to their controversial

nature. The public overwhelmingly supports the Civic Center Field (“Sports Field”),

which has been approved by City Council yet not submitted to the Coastal

Commission. The public does not support the ECEC or CSB in general, and would

oppose Applications for those projects that prevent the Sports Field from moving

forward because its location is being used as mitigation for the parking demands of the ECEC and CSB;

(3) Failure to accurately determine parking usage of the ECEC and CSB and Civic

Center parking capacity due to inaccurate and incomplete information provided by applicants; and

(4) Failure to consider the approved Civic Center Field project as a concurrently

application along with other uses impacting access because the mitigation measures

in the Applications eliminate the location of the Sports Field from the Civic Center Specific Plan (“CCSP”).”


All this came down around the Labor Day weekend — coincidence, I’m sure — so reaction time by any opposition was severely limited. I was out of town and only learned of all this about 12 hours before my column deadline.

There’s much that makes this whiff suspiciously. I think from a tactical standpoint it’s pretty clever — make the Coastal Commission kill the playing field, not our own City leaders. Except once you see how it all went down, it seems pretty obvious to me that there is a plan being played out. You can only ascribe so many missteps in a row to incompetence or oversight rather than intent.

Because of the short notice all around I have not had a chance to hear the City’s side of all this, but I do plan to request time with City Manager Rick Cole and Director of Community and Cultural Services Karen Ginsberg to hear their side of it, and will report that.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Spectrum/Time Warner couldn’t, in six weeks, notify their customers who are paying for voice mail service every month, that they eliminated the 888 number you could call to get your messages? I guess that would have been pretty difficult.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Happy Birthday, Chris — you are a great son and an amazingly loving and valuable human being who has blessed this earth gently. Long may you run.” — Charles Andrews, proud father

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else

in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at  therealmrmusic@gmail.com

SM Outlook

Astonishing Figure: City will spend $141,000,000 to build a 50,000 sft building

Council approves
$1M for Pier Concert
$300K for COAST

It’s called “the list,” a compilation of proposed building projects being tracked by City planners, or all plans in Santa Monica's development pipeline.  (more)

The Downtown Community Plan will open the floodgates to massive development

Santa Monica Lookout Article

Wilshire  Montana
Neighborhood  Coalition

Plan for Santa Monica’s Downtown Receives Initial Nod from City Council

SM Outlook article

Unanimous Council move DCP forward

SM Daily Press article




BY Charles Andrews



By Taffy Patton

Every neighborhood group in the city consistently and strongly demanded a central park at 4th-5th/AZ. Santa Monica’s Recreation and Parks, the SMart Architects, Santa Monica for a Livable City - we all clearly wanted a park. 

But council didn’t care what residents wanted.  They voted NO on our central park.

After years of  publicly saying he was against tall hotels along the Ocean, Kevin voted YES on the the Opportunity Sites. Sue and Tony voted NO, but  that didn't matter because the whole gang unanimously voted YES on the draft DCP that included those 130’ monstrosities.  

Council also decided that housing projects of up to 75,000 sq ft require only administrative (staff) approval.  That means no Planning Commission expertise and certainly no public input when a building this size is constructed anywhere downtown. 

For illustration, below is a  29,000 sq. ft Santa Monica building near the Promenade - tiny compared to a 75,000 Sq ft building in Anaheim.  While the height would be lower than this building on transition boulevards,  the mass would be the same.  

Picture this mass 50’ tall next to 23’ tall apartments…

Council, including the “supermajority," just decided that residents can’t say ANYTHING when developers decide to build this next door.


But there’s more.  Council asked staff to explore:

  • Equalizing density requirements between areas of downtown (adding more density to boulevards that transition to neighborhoods)
  • Streamlining all 100 percent affordable housing projects (raising that inconvenient 49-unit limit so bigger Step Ups can be constructed with zero public input)
  • Eliminating parking minimums (so neighborhoods can be flooded with more cars, Amazon, Fed Ex, PO carriers, gardeners can block more driveways and more local businesses will go dark)
  • Mandating affordable housing on a project by project basis ( so developers have to maintain “cosy" relationships with council and staff. Just like the Parking Overlays that can be waived by our Planning Director,  negotiable mandates encourage  hard-to-track  political juice, campaign contributions, future employment, etc.)

The draft DCP is a disaster for residents and it looks like it will get worse.

Taffy Patton

No major Public Park in Final Draft of Downtown SM Plan
SM Coalition for a Livable City Urges  Residents 

Council approves Park list for county research study

Santa Monica Daily Press

Attention Wilmont Members

Wilmont is working to promote the interests of our residents, such as speaking on behalf of our neighborhood at City Council and Planning Commission meetings and creating new committees to keep you updated on the big issues facing our city. Please take a look at the committees list below and consider spending a few hours a month and taking a more active role in our city’s future.

-DEVELOPMENT-Big Projects like the Miramar, etc.

-TRANSPORTATION-Traffic, Parking, Big Blue Bus, etc.

-OUTREACH-Website, Events, Flyers, Membership, etc

-ELECTIONS-City Council, etc.

-ZONING-Downtown Plan, Zoning Ordinance Update, etc.

Ed Hunsaker,  Alin Wall

-WILSHIRE BLVD PLANNING-“Activity Center”, Developments, etc.

-HOUSING-Renters Rights, Taxes, etc.

If you would like to sign up, contact us at:

Email: wilmontinfo@gmail.com
Phone:       310-359-8238

or come to our next meeting.

  Wilmont... neighbors working together for a better community.
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