We are tired of hearing from Santa Monica city staff that they are “working” with those who have violated development agreements that have not been properly monitored for decades. City staff and those who have served on the City Council since the 1980s should be ashamed of themselves for failing to hold those who signed the agreements accountable. And now that we finally have an idea of who is in compliance and who is not, it’s time to get tough and make sure taxpayers are getting the benefits these developers and property owners agreed to when they received generous benefits from City Hall to build higher or build fewer parking spaces, or whatever they received in exchange as community benefits.
The whole point of a development agreement is to ensure that the community is not taken advantage of. Well, guess what, we have been. Now the council should get aggressive. No more talk. Let’s see some action. File suit, take those who have failed to abide by the rules to court. Enough of this “we’re working with them.” The council needs to restore the faith. If development agreements are to play a major role in the future under the Land Use and Circulation Element, the public needs to feel confident that City Hall is going to make sure community benefits are delivered in a timely manner.
The city manager told the Daily Press that every year the council will review active agreements for compliance. Great, but this should have been happening all along. Give those who are out of compliance a strict deadline and if they don’t rectify by that time, bring down the hammer. For a council that talks often about protecting neighborhoods and guarding against overdevelopment, they sure dropped the ball on this one.