CITY HALL — The City Council on Tuesday night rejected a proposal that would have postponed hearings on most large-scale development projects planned for Santa Monica.

City Councilman Kevin McKeown had asked his colleagues to approve putting off hearings on the biggest projects for several months while City Hall completes work on the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), a long-range planning document that will guide growth in neighborhoods where projects are proposed.

He said postponing the hearings would free up staff time to concentrate on the LUCE and would give decision makers on the Planning Commission and City Council a better sense of community priorities before considering individual projects.

The motion failed as McKeown and Councilwoman Gleam Davis were the only members to support it. The other five council members, including Terry O’Day, who was sworn in earlier in the evening, voted against the measure.

After hearing from Planning Director Eileen Fogarty, several council members who opposed the motion said they were satisfied that City Hall planners could handle working on development agreements while also focusing on completing the LUCE.

“It sounds to me like the process is working,” said Councilman Richard Bloom. “There’s a plan afoot to make this kind of thing happen and perhaps we should hear back if it doesn’t.”

Before the vote attorneys for several projects that would have been affected argued against McKeown’s proposal.

Attorney Dale Goldsmith, who represents Agensys, a biotech company with plans to expand its facility in Santa Monica, said postponing hearings would hurt his client.

“We have a very tight time frame and unfortunately there’s no slack in the scheduling,” he said.

Chris Harding, who represents developer Hines, the company planning the nearly 1 million square-foot Bergamot Transit Village, argued the proposal was counterproductive and would result in fewer opportunities for the public to give input on development projects.

Representatives from several neighborhood groups, though, said residents support slowing down the review process for development agreements.

Speaking on behalf of the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition, Chairperson Valerie Griffin urged the council to approve McKeown’s measure.

“It is unreasonable to rush approval of development that will take years to complete and will be part of the city for decades,” she told the council.

Though the council rejected McKeown’s idea, there appears to be some momentum behind an alternative proposal neighborhood groups have backed.

Because six of the 10 projects seeking development agreements with City Hall are located in the eastside area known as the Light Manufacturing and Studio District (LMSD), residents who live in the nearby Pico and Sunset Park neighborhoods have expressed concern over increased traffic if the projects are approved.

Groups like the Coalition for a Livable City have argued City Hall should study the cumulative impacts of the projects, rather than holding individual hearings on each one.

On Wednesday, Hank Koning, who chairs the Planning Commission, said at the commission’s next meeting he plans to discuss holding such a “study session” on the LMSD projects. The idea, Koning said, would be to examine whether the projects together would be in line with the LUCE’s requirements and would provide the right mix of community benefits to constitute a “complete neighborhood.”

Before the vote to reject his proposal, McKeown said he believed residents would continue to bring complaints about City Hall’s review process for large-scale projects to the City Council.

“I disagree that everything is fine. I don’t share the sunny view that the process at this moment is serving the public as well as you might do,” he said.

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