The Miramar‚Äôs accusation that Santa Monica residents are the tools of the Huntley Hotel is typical of its attempts to divide the Santa Monica community (“Downtown hotel cold war heats up,” June 14). What I want, and I think most residents want, is a diverse and affordable community that protects the natural environment we all enjoy.
I have only one concern: the shocking proposal to build 120 condominiums and, at a minimum, to triple spa, food and retail use. The developer bought a 12-story hotel; it wants a 21-story condo and hotel mall. Any discussion should start at 12 stories, not 21.
The Miramar‚Äôs “we‚Äôre listening” statement in the press is a craftily engineered ‚Äî and misleading ‚Äî statement. I attended the first Miramar “open house.” Mr. Epstein introduced the plan as resulting from listening to the residents. As an across-the-street resident, we naturally asked, “What residents?” We were told “the condo board.” After a board member objected, he admitted it was one board member.
The Miramar knew the initial plan would raise hue and cry: it was a brick wall, filled in with more brick. The Miramar revised plan ignores our objections ‚Äî too much square footage, too much impact on the adjacent residential homes and not massed on Wilshire (the commercial street). But the Miramar cleverly moved a wall or two and got what it had planned all along: the misleading statement that “we‚Äôre listening.”
This is a well-financed, well-planned strategy by the Miramar to make no substantive changes to its plan so it can get behind closed doors with the city with the original scope intact. It started in 2006, leaving the Downtown Specific Plan incomplete and carving out undefined “opportunity sites” to be settled in a non-public, back-door deal ‚Äî even as the promised Downtown Specific Plan remains undone.
The residents want planning and projects good for Santa Monica. Behind-closed-door deals, when primary Downtown planning remains undone, is contrary to good governance and regulation. We are not the tools of the Huntley. If anything, we are using it, trying to get the city to say “we‚Äôre listening” and act accordingly.