CITY HALL — Santa Monica’s most influential political party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, has weighed in on City Hall’s long-term planning blueprint, knocking the proposed Land Use and Circulation Element for allegedly favoring job creation over housing.

SMRR’s comments on the LUCE’s draft environmental impact report were submitted Monday, the last day of the public comment period.

“While recognizing the need for growth, we’re concerned that [the LUCE] will further skew the jobs-housing imbalance,” said SMRR Chairperson Patricia Hoffman.

SMRR officials said the DEIR estimates developers will build 3.1 million square feet of commercial space and 5,000 residential units in Santa Monica in the next 20 years. According to SMRR’s comments, that would mean 10,000 new jobs and 6,500 new residents who work.

“This land use pattern will further exacerbate the current imbalance between jobs and housing in the city with all the adverse environmental impacts that would entail,” the group wrote.

SMRR also expressed concern that new commercial development will create low-paying service industry jobs and newly constructed market rate housing will be unaffordable for these new workers.

“The city should take the extra step to project and analyze the jobs to be generated by employment category and the likely incomes and professions of the new households,” the SMRR message said. “Santa Monica needs more housing and a range of housing options that serve the demographics of the city’s workers and residents, more so than commercial growth.”

In its 10 pages worth of comments, the group also called the DEIR “insufficient and deficient” for failing to address “a wide variety of very real possibilities that could easily come to pass that would have significant environmental impacts.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Hoffman said the accusatory tone of SMRR’s comments shouldn’t be taken to mean the group is opposed to the majority of the ideas embodied in the LUCE.

She said she is “quite certain” SMRR will support the final version of the document, which the City Council hopes to adopt by summer.

With about 4,000 members — among them a majority of the sitting City Council members — SMRR is Santa Monica’s most powerful political group.

City Councilman and SMRR member Kevin McKeown said the group’s comments on the draft EIR reflect its core priorities.

“SMRR’s heart is in housing, and SMRR’s comments raise relevant questions about whether the draft LUCE would allow too much commercial development, while failing to provide sufficient affordable housing,” he said.

Francie Stefan, City Hall’s community and strategic planning manager, said about 25 comments from community groups and individuals on the DEIR were submitted.

She said it was too soon to discuss the specifics of SMRR’s comments.

Within the next two months, City Hall planners will respond to all of the comments, revise the draft EIR and issue a final version of the document. Once the EIR is certified by the City Council, the body will be set to vote on adopting the LUCE.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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