If anyone wants to see what Santa Monica will be like in the future, just look at the four floor, 37,377-square-foot, mixed-use project proposed for 2919-2923 Wilshire Blvd. at Stanford Street. There’s a lot more of these coming to your neighborhood over the next 30 years.

The property has been the single floor Jerry’s Liquor store for four decades. I worked there part time while in UCLA grad school. There was a pet store on the Wilshire side and it has a large surface parking lot. Soon, it’ll all be history.

Last Wednesday, the Planning Commission was scheduled to review a request from developer Wilshire Structures, LLP, a subsidiary of Blackstone Capital Group, for a Development Review Permit and a variance for a driveway location for the project but continued the item until Jan. 20, 2010.

Nevertheless, the staff report referred to this as a “preferred project” because of its mixed-use designation. The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) update to the city’s general plan is also full of this kind of language — “mixed use,” “affordable and workforce housing” and “sustainable.” Never mind the extra density, additional height and negative traffic impacts.

City Hall’s planning department says 2919-2923 Wilshire will be a preferred permitted project comprised of a new LEED (environmentally) Silver-rated, four-story, mixed-use building with two levels of subterranean parking, a ground floor 11,595-square-foot specialty market (such as Gelson’s or Fresh & Easy) and 26 market-rate apartment units.

The proposed market alone is more than twice the size of the current building on site How could a project this large also with 26 apartments —19 of them two and three bedroom units — be environmentally friendly? Demands for water, power and liquid and solid waste removal required for this will far exceed what’s currently there — not counting air pollution and ancillary impacts. This isn’t “environmentally friendly” no matter the LEED certification!

The development even features the repetitive, pseudo-industrial, boring, warehouse architecture that’s becoming so commonplace in Santa Monica these days. But, here’s the piece de resistance: “The Final Environmental Impact Report … has concluded that there will be significant unavoidable impacts to traffic and circulation.”

Just what are those impacts you ask? Try 644 net new average daily (car) trips during the weekday. “The increase in vehicles traveling on the surrounding roadway network under cumulative plus project conditions would result in a significant traffic impact to the intersection of Stanford Street and Wilshire Boulevard, which currently operates at LOS (Level of Service) F (most congested) during the a.m. and p.m. peak hour periods. Because no feasible mitigation is available, impacts at this intersection would be … significant and unavoidable,” says the draft EIR.

The draft EIR also mentions significant impacts to Lipton Avenue to the north and Berkeley Street one block east. By the way, 3105 Wilshire at Berkeley (Albertson’s/Big 5) owned by Macerich of Santa Monica Place fame may also be redeveloped in the near future.

Although Macerich hasn’t revealed specifics, it’s expected they’ll propose a mixed-use structure four to six floors tall with full lot coverage, retail space, market rate and low-income housing and offices.

Did I mention a Wilshire entrance for “street friendliness” and multi-level underground parking? Like that makes it OK?

Thieves go holiday shopping, too<p>

Car burglars and bicycle thieves are operating in Downtown as well as other local shopping destinations, especially during the holidays.

A friend’s daughter recently purchased a new MacBook at the Apple Store on the Third Street Promenade and took it back to her car parked in a city parking garage on Second Street.

She placed the MacBook in the passenger compartment, covered it from view, locked the car and went back to the promenade. A few minutes later, she returned to the car and found a window broken and the MacBook missing. She noticed another car with two young males inside speed by her at the same time she discovered the loss.

She called the Santa Monica Police Department. A team of officers investigated the incident. She viewed recordings from promenade security cameras that showed the same two young males she saw in the parking garage following her from the Apple Store to her car. The investigation is ongoing and the thieves haven’t been apprehended, yet.

Lesson: Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle — especially in the passenger compartment even if hidden from view. After buying something, take your purchases home. If you have more shopping to do, lock valuables in your trunk and move your car.

If an opportunist sees you drive off, he’s not likely to follow and you can move to another parking garage. If you place valuables in your passenger compartment and leave your vehicle, chances are they’ll be gone when you return. And that includes iPods and cell phones, too.

Have a good holiday season! Don’t become a victim!

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

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