City officials recently admitted that they have no clue as to how a more developer-friendly zoning map was included in the Land Use & Circulation Element in regards to A-lots (“Residents, City Hall propose corrections to planning document,” Nov. 13). That change has already led to one development proposal that currently would not be allowed.

 

So, this week Q-Line asked:

 

THE SITE: A map included in a crucial planning document states that this parking lot on Berkeley Street could house a commercial development. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

THE SITE: A map included in a crucial planning document states that this parking lot on Berkeley Street could house a commercial development. (File photo)

Given that City Hall doesn’t know how the change occurred, should an independent investigation be conducted? What do you think happened?

 

Here are your responses:

 

“I do think there should be an independent investigation. It’s a crooked thing that’s going on, but I can’t say what happened. The guy that answered last week’s question about the minimum wage who said kids should go to work, he’s probably the guy that messed around and somehow finagled the plan because he sounds like a crook or something that wants to put kids to work.”

 

“I am saying yes, we definitely need an independent investigation.”

 

“By all means, have an independent investigation conducted, and while we’re at it, how about investigating why parkways disappear and pedestrians are forced into the street in some parts of town? Are there different rules for different owners?”

 

“Absolutely an independent investigation. This is just one more instance where the city is being stolen from the residents”

 

“I support an investigation of how A-lots (parking lots on the edges of residential areas) were changed from residential to commercial in one of the maps in the LUCE. SMDP’s Nov. 12 issue quotes Rod Gould as saying, ‘It was not clear to staff as to what led to the map being inserted … . And why and whether or not there was adequate documentation of that change, much less public consideration, is very much in question.’ Since many residents feel City Hall favors commercial interests over those of residents, it is important to find out if these changes are symptomatic of an overall bias in the LUCE. Such an investigation would be timely given staff’s proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance to conform to LUCE. Also, over the past few years the City Council has authorized many exceptions to the LUCE in the form of development agreements, many of which have been contentious. We need to know if we are all playing by the same rules.”

 

“What has happened to Santa Monica, when a developer can think just because he paid a lot of money for the property he purchased that he can do what he pleases? Something fishy is going on. We should get to the bottom of how and who did this change. Not just sweep it under the rug. We want and deserve answers. I am a 42-year resident and I live on Berkeley Street. Maybe you should try and back out of my driveway any time of day. It is getting worse all the time.”

 

“Absolutely! An investigation needs to be made into how the A-lots changes slipped into the LUCE undetected. How many other changes slipped into LUCE and zoning that have not yet been detected? If we are to trust city staff then an investigation must be made.”

 

“As a longtime resident of Santa Monica, I well remember in the late 1970s when the City Council allowed a developer to demolish three single-family homes (which he owned) that were zoned R1 to build parking lots behind the stores and shops on north Montana between 14th and 15th streets. The then City Council placated the protests of residents in the neighborhood and the city at large by designating the parcels as A-lots, meaning they would revert to their R1 status if the parking lots were ever taken out of service. I am concerned that R1 lots may be commercialized through an ‘untraceable oversight.’ In particular though, I live one house removed from the subject R1 A-lots and don’t want to be in the shadow of taller commercial developments because it may be too late to reverse this ‘mistake.’ I request that the City Council change the clause in LUCE that codifies this mistake. Further, I request an investigation into how this oversight occurred, lest it lead to more distasteful feelings residents have toward the perceived cavalier attitude the council has on the limited development wishes of the city’s citizens.”

 

“I don’t care how Santa Monica goes regarding getting to the bottom of things regarding the A-lot change from residential to commercial. I simply know that something stinks. Someone tried the old ‘sleight of hand’ trick and thought this change could go through without being noticed, but, thankfully, that’s not the case. I hope City Hall reverses this unauthorized alteration. I’m not a developer. My husband isn’t a developer. My friends and neighbors aren’t developers. No one I know would ever have approved this change as this is our neighborhood. We don’t need more buildings and more traffic and more congestion. I don’t know how to explain it more simply.”

 

“There was no oversight, and if there was developers know how to jump through loopholes, with the assistance of city officials, and no one will be held accountable. The great stewards of our city’s plan is to pack us in like sardines. Neighborhood groups are doomed in fighting one development agreement at a time. Once a beautiful city, it is now heading from mediocre to downright ugly. Once a beach town, now a town with a beach in front of it, from charm and warmth to cold and sterile. It’s all about greed.”

 

“We used to have a term, which was to be Fricked, Suzanne Frick. Time and time again we would be Fricked because of the dirty tricks, the underhanded machinations, trickery, by the former planning director and key staff. Those key staff remain in place and I am 99.83 percent certain they are behind this little trick with this map.”

 

“Given the overall level of deviousness by various city departments, it would not be surprising that this particular issue, among many others, will cause the city of Santa Monica to hurtle to an investigation by the L.A. County District Attorney’s office. I think an investigation by not only the district attorney, but the state attorney general, regarding the way things are being handled here is long overdue. It’s just a matter of time. It’s a ticking clock. No doubt there are going to be city officials who are going to be scrutinized just like the officials in the city of Bell.”

 

“It is utterly ridiculous and insulting as a citizen of Santa Monica that developers are running roughshod over existing building codes, whose sole purpose is to manage the growth of the city in a balanced way. At this point, from the few public hearings I have attended I feel like the city is following in the footsteps of Washington D.C. where money talks via lobbyists and overwhelms any actual public sentiment or opinion. LUCE was put in place for a reason. Let’s not fool anyone into thinking that this is a blatant attempt to change the balance of city development, which largely ignores the input of those of us who vote and pay taxes. ‘Re-zoning without representation’ seems to be the current plan.”

 

“Why is it that no one knows how this happened or who is responsible for the changes? This is a very important issue to many Santa Monica residents who don’t want to see our neighborhoods ruined. We want the City Council to investigate this matter soon. Something is fishy here!”

 

“I find it very disturbing that our mayor, Pam O’Connor, has not come out with some reassuring words that explicitly state that a forensic investigation as to the facts in regards to the A-lot mystery is taking place. The public needs assurance that this investigation is taking place from her directly. In my opinion, when an elected official in her position doesn’t take great care to publicly explain the details of how an investigation is proceeding on such a grave matter, they are contributing to a culture of mis-management and they should maybe themselves be recalled.”

 

“How much is this independent investigation going to cost us, with all these $200,000-a-year lawyers working at City Hall and devoted to the city of Bell standards? They believe the ends justify the means. None of them care about you or this city. All of them have been in office too long. They have no love for the simple beach town we were. It’s all about their oversized egos, their love of the free lunch, their ecstasy at spending other people’s money and the power that comes from disrupting people’s lives. One of the labors of Hercules was cleaning out the massive stables. Even Hercules couldn’t clean out the muck at City Hall enough to have an independent investigation.”