CITY HALL — Five commercial property owners have yet to satisfy the requirements of development agreements they entered into with Santa Monica’s City Hall, though Planning Department officials this week said they were working with all parties to achieve compliance.
The report from Planning Director Eileen Fogarty came after officials in February acknowledged they had failed to conduct required annual reviews of the agreements, which are contracts that typically mandate a developer provide “public benefits” in exchange for zoning variances.
The five projects that have not yet complied with their obligations are: St. John’s Health Center, Yahoo Center, the Sheraton Delphina Hotel, Paseo Del Mar and a four-story mixed-use commercial building at 1733 Ocean Ave. owned by development company Maguire Thomas.
Besides presenting an update on the status of existing agreements, Fogarty also recommended the council attach a $10,000 fee to future development agreements to cover the cost of staff time spent checking up on compliance.
The council has said it will conduct annual reviews of development agreements beginning in January.
In the latest status update, some of the development agreement line items that had not been fulfilled were relatively minor requirements, like, in Maguire Thomas’ case, a mandate to make parking in a company lot available to the public on weekends and holidays at a specified rate.
Following City Hall’s compliance review, the company was given until Thursday to install permanent signs advertising the public parking spaces in order to achieve compliance.
Unfulfilled obligations with other development agreements involved more consequential deal points.
St. John’s Health Center, for instance, is asking to get out of one major requirement of its deal with City Hall.
As part of its renovation, the hospital had agreed to build a 442-space subterranean parking garage and new entry plaza. The health center has failed to follow through and now wants to put that requirement off for 10 years, during which time it proposes to lease off-site parking spaces and operate a valet service instead.
St. John’s filed an application to revise its development agreement in 2007. Its request will be considered by the City Council this year, according to a City Hall report.
The Yahoo Center, which officials said was leasing 100 parking spaces to off-site parties, in violation of its development agreement, also is asking for a change to its original parking lot deal. The company is expected to file an application for a development agreement amendment within the next month.
The Sheraton Delphina, located at 530 Pico Blvd., has failed to provide adequate public art and comply with patio landscaping restrictions, according to a City Hall report. Planners this week said the hotel’s management has approved $25,000 for public art, is fixing its landscaping problems and is also beefing up its mandated local internship program.
Paseo Del Mar, a mixed-use project at 1541 Ocean Ave., has paid just half of its required $75,000 public art contribution but believes on-site art it has provided should satisfy the balance of its requirement. The Cultural Affairs Division is assessing that claim, a City Hall report stated.
Paseo Del Mar also has to provide parking racks for nine additional bicycles, bringing its total to 25, in order to achieve compliance.
In one case, officials said compliance could not be verified. Maguire Thomas had been required to submit an “affirmative action plan” for labor and materials acquisition during construction. But no documents could be located to prove whether that requirement had been fulfilled, according to a City Hall report.
The review of development agreements also exposed at least one instance in which a sought after public benefit appears to have fallen short of what was expected, but where there may be little recourse.
The Sheraton Delphina had agreed to make it a company goal to hire 80 percent of its workers locally in its original development agreement. A recent review of employment records, City Hall said, showed just 7 percent of its workforce (11 out of 169 employees), were Santa Monica residents.
Because the local hiring stipulation was a goal, rather than a commitment, there’s likely no way to compel the hotel to hire more locals. A City Hall report, though, said the hotel’s “2010 Recruitment Initiative” is “designed to encourage recruitment of Santa Monica residents for employment.”