On July 23, (“City Hall‚Äôs gravy train derails development,” My Write, page 4) I wrote about the new development planned for the¬†Village¬†Trailer Park¬†at¬†2930 Colorado Ave. The “East Village” by developer Marc Luzzatto is one of a half-dozen oversized projects proposed¬†in the immediate Colorado/Stewart Street/Olympic Boulevard neighborhood.

Luzzatto’s development is a 378,460-square-foot, 438-unit, housing/retail complex in a small neighborhood that’s facing over 2 million square feet of new construction in the next few years. Citizens are objecting about height, size, density and the displacement of some 48 low income, elderly tenants in a trailer park on the property.

The project was discussed at the July 24 City Council meeting. After lengthy public input, council voted to continue the item until Aug. 28. However, Luzatto¬†has asked for an additional continuance to respond to public¬†comments and “explore whether we can develop a creative solution that could make our project even greater for the community.”¬†In particular, Luzzatto wants to consider reconfiguring the project to preserve¬†trailer space so some residents can stay on¬†the 3.85 acre site

It’s obvious that Luzzatto is making a serious attempt to develop a better, more neighborhood friendly project. Hooray! City Council should grant the continuance.


Trammel Crow’s monster


The Planning Commission voted last month to advance yet another jumbo development on the city’s eastern border to City Council. Multi-national developer Trammel Crow (TC Development, LLC) proposes a 197,971-square-foot, four-floor complex consisting of a mix of 300 apartments, retail space and parking for 554 vehicles on 2.5 acres at 3402 Pico Blvd.

Like the East Village, this development’s large scale and mass along with potentially major traffic increases have Sunset Park and Pico neighbors up in arms this time.

Even without architectural renderings, City Hall planning staff described this as a “gateway project” that will provide, “good, healthy and diverse neighborhoods,” with “a variety of (roof) heights and architectural elements and shapes to create visual interest.” Keep in mind no architectural renderings have been submitted.

Staff¬†promises it will contain “workforce housing in proximity to transit and major employment centers” (like the Trader Joe‚Äôs up the block?) and “make a range of housing options available in multi-family neighborhoods to suit the spectrum on individual lifestyles and space needs.”

Do we really care if this monster meets Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) criteria or that it will offset Tier 3 density issues with community benefits such as the usual affordable housing, bicycle parking, a community gym and green rooftops (for¬†the project‚Äôs residents only?) and “free” parking for neighborhood businesses? Free? Really?

Planning commissioners ruminated about traffic increases, pedestrian circulation and health threats to future residents who’d be living literally feet from Interstate 10. Despite reservations, commissioners still voted to forward the development to City Council to begin the process of turning this nightmare into reality. It will be before council in October.

Do you think neighbors have been sold out by clueless commissioners willing to buy a pig in a poke and a planning staff that should be writing brochure copy for developers?


School board says, ‘Show me the money!’


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District approved the placing of a $358 million construction bond on the November ballot just after¬†I wrote about this (“Proposed school bond is simply greed not need,” July 30).

Bond money can only be used for building and renovations — not for classroom or operating expenses. School district voters approved a similar $268 million renovation and construction measure (BB) in 2006. Some of that money hasn’t even been spent yet.

The district and its cheerleaders have placed fundraising measures on local ballots numerous times in the last 12 years. Expectations are that they will push for another parcel tax measure for the November 2014 ballot because there’s never enough money to fill this district’s bottomless financial hole.


More parking woes


On July 9, I wrote (“City Hall is a spoil sport,” My Write) that it was cheap of City Hall to charge Main Street Fourth of July Parade participants and visitors $3 to park in the Civic Center Parking Structure the morning of the parade. I mentioned the trouble I had with the ticket machine and how I was sorely inconvenienced by an “unreadable” ticket that prevented me from exiting the garage.

Fast forward to Aug. 7. I arrived at 4:30 p.m. to park for the Santa Monica Police Department‚Äôs National Night Out. I tried to take a ticket needed to open the gate to enter the garage, except it was “out of folded entry tickets.” I drove forward and a disembodied voice boomed out, “You need to take a ticket!” I yelled back, “It‚Äôs out of tickets. I‚Äôm here for National Night Out.¬† Parking is supposed to be free.”

“Who are you?” I answered, “A volunteer working the event.” “Someone will be down to load the machine,” the voice crackled. “You better hurry,” I responded. “Cars are lined up behind me waiting to get in.”

Then, like the parting of the Red Sea, the parking gate swung open. I felt like Moses as I led a parade of vehicles into the  promised land. When I left later that evening, the exit gates were open, so no problems getting out.

City Hall’s crappy customer service hasn’t improved one iota since last month. Maybe candidates running for council will straighten things out if elected. Will it make a difference? If you think so, I’ll give you my pet unicorn.



Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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