In a letter to the editor of the Daily Press (May 23, page 4) Bob Taylor and Roger Swanson from Ocean Park and the Lincoln Boulevard Task Force, Zina Josephs from Sunset Park and Gloria Garvin from the Pico Neighborhood Association sounded the alarm about a new auto dealership that may be heading to Lincoln Boulevard which is “off-limits” to such dealerships.
Auto dealerships are restricted to “Auto Row” which is Santa Monica Boulevard, east of Lincoln in the Mid-City area by the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) adopted by City Council four years ago. The LUCE is at the core of the update to Santa Monica’s general plan that governs development, land use, traffic and growth.
Taylor, Swanson, Josephs and Garvin wrote, “The influence machine is out there working its way around City Hall, trying to influence various ex-politician residents in the Ocean Park and Sunset Park neighborhoods.”
The quartet singled out City Hall’s busiest lobbyist Kim Karie of The Karie Group. They wrote that Karie “has put out feelers about relocating a new car dealership onto Lincoln south of the freeway.”
They reported that a car dealer has already purchased property at 2700 Lincoln Blvd. “It would seem that one would have to have a very high degree of confidence to have already purchased the land knowing it would require a change in the LUCE, when the LUCE is very specific in its stated goal of decreasing auto related services, and that new dealerships are not a permitted use on Lincoln Boulevard south of the I-10.”
2700 Lincoln was purchased by Ron Davis, owner of Santa Monica Ford who would like to relocate his Subaru dealership to the site. If approved, this will set a precedent in direct violation of the LUCE.
His team includes land use attorney Chris Harding, a principal in Harding, Larmore, Kutcher and Kozall, LLP and Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) honcho Judy Abdo, who is also eliciting support for the dealership.
Abdo, who never saw a development she didn’t like or a developer she wouldn’t cozy up to, is a member of the SMRR steering committee, board member of the Ocean Park Association and chair of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation.
Harding was chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Land Use Committee when he (and it) came up with a whole raft of last minute, pro-business/pro-development changes for the LUCE just weeks before it was to be adopted by council.
This angered many residents who’d spent years attending workshops and communicating with city planners to craft a policy document that would be fair and workable for all concerned.
I’m also troubled by a statement in their letter: “The Task Force also did an extensive survey of residents regarding desired improvements to Lincoln Boulevard. The results were that traffic was the primary concern, followed by the need to reduce auto related businesses.”
I’ve been going to my mechanic Juda at European Exclusives since the late 1970s when his shop was one of a half dozen auto repair businesses on Montana Avenue — all of which are long gone along with the half-dozen gas stations.
European Exclusive is on Lincoln on a site recently purchased by a landlord/developer who has given tenants notice they may have to move in two years. Two weeks ago, auto mechanic extraordinaire Hari Pal announced that his new landlord gave him a month to vacate his 30-year-old car repair shop at 2633 Pico Blvd.
When these sites are developed, they’ll inevitably become cookie-cutter, four- or five-floor apartment buildings. Of course, they’ll have ground floor retail space for yet another Chase bank branch, Subway, Peet’s Coffee and/or real estate office.
These mom-and-pop auto repair shops, smog stations and auto parts stores are truly neighborhood serving businesses. Unfortunately, they’re going the way of the drive-in movie, bowling alley, favorite diner and pitch and putt. In a few years, they all will be scarcer than hen’s teeth.
Tens of thousands of us will have to take our vehicles out of town to Venice, Torrance or Culver City for oil changes, tune ups and brake jobs because Starbucks doesn’t service cars.
City Hall planners don’t want auto repair shops — favoring new, banal, apartment buildings with street level stores, instead. City Hall’s propaganda seems to be working because some residents have apparently bought into this flawed planning with its promises of street utopia.
Even more infuriating is the chutzpah demonstrated by developers, lobbyists, land use attorneys and their power-hungry cronies in thinking they can arbitrarily manipulate the LUCE again.
What’s next? Throwing out the zoning codes? Build anything they want, wherever they want? Planning commissioners and City Council should “round-file” this as fast as they can.
Big Boo Bus
Last Thursday, 12:35 p.m. I’m waiting at the bus stop at Euclid Street and Montana Avenue with plans to grab a bus and head into Westwood for a movie. Along comes the Number 3 but it’s not slowing down. I jump up and down and wave my arms over my head. It rolls on by.
Regular readers know I’ve been stranded at the curb more times than I’ve been picked up by the No. 3. Last Thursday’s fly-by was the sixth time in two years.
Does anyone in this city give a rat’s behind about providing service? I think not.
I feel sorry for folks who have to rely on this bush league bus company and its inattentive, half blind drivers.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to vote Tuesday.