Editor:

I would like to voice my extreme disapproval with the plan to demolish a parking structure in Downtown, to be replaced with an oversized theater/retail complex (“Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact report for the AMC Theater development agreement project,” Legal Notices, Oct. 10). The idea that such a commercial venture would be allowed … without even replacing the parking it is displacing, is the height of idiocy. Furthermore, we do not need another theater, nor does AMC need more business in our town, having three theaters already.

Downtown is at gridlock, leaving local residents unable to negotiate the streets of their own town to accomplish the smallest ordinary task in a reasonable amount of time. The level of construction is ridiculous and it is never-ending, with one project piggybacking upon the next so that there is never any respite from noise, inconvenience, turmoil and frustration. Our planning department is a joke. There seems to be no attempt to even coordinate construction projects to minimize traffic snarls. And it is astonishing to learn that developer fees mandated for traffic mitigation have not been collected for years while Santa Monica goes without left turn signals at most intersections and timed lights. I lay this at the feet of the City Council. The lack of oversight is appalling.

The last thing Santa Monica needs, given the onslaught of construction of rabbit hutch apartments Downtown and ongoing construction for the new park, is another project tearing up Downtown streets, impeding traffic, and removing over 300 of the few parking places we have now. Though I live in Santa Monica, I never shop here and avoid Downtown like the plague for fear of stroking out from aggravation. I go to the movies in West L.A. or Culver City or the Marina, and go to Century City or the Beverly Center if I have to do mall-type shopping, anything to avoid the horror of Santa Monica traffic and construction. The last time I took the Big Blue Bus you are trying to route all of us to, I waited alone in the dark opposite City Hall for the last scheduled bus, having seen the previous one depart as I approached, crying “wait!” The scheduled time came and went with nary a bus in sight, though I waited for almost half an hour past its due time. Finally I, a woman alone at night in a poorly lit part of town, walked all the way home.

Have you people so radically bumped your heads, given a bus situation like that one, a lack of taxis, and the fact that “date nighters” are probably not going to take their bicycles (especially in winter) and neither are seniors, that there is now a way to get around town after one would get out of a theoretical AMC movie complex without parking, after the evening shows? You are shooting yourselves in the foot. And you are killing our town as a place to actually live in instead of just visit by approving all this construction and chasing after tourist dollars instead of improving quality of life for the people who actually live here and pay for your salaries and pension funds.

The grandiosity of the schemes of the City Council and their toadying to developers at the expense of residents has created enormous frustration and backlash at the street level. And I use that term purposefully. I think this project, at this time (particularly given other ongoing construction projects including the Metro rail close by) is completely ill-advised, that the elimination of current parking and lack of adequate parking for patrons of the project is insane, and I urge the Planning Commission to reject it. I believe a construction moratorium has been needed for some time. Start here.

 

Sharon Hagen

Santa Monica