A proposed condo complex at Ocean Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard is being opposed by residents who are concerned about its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. (photo by Howard Laks Architects)

OCEAN AVE — In an effort to block the development of high-end condos here, a group of residents has filed an appeal with the City Council, calling on elected officials to force the developer to conduct a report on the project’s environmental and social impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.

The group, led by resident Dish Taylor, not only feels the project’s Spanish Colonial revival design is out of character for the neighborhood, which is comprised of garden-style apartments, they believe the project has significant social and economic impacts because it would result in the loss of 47 affordable rental units. Those units would be replaced by 15 luxury condos — with a price tag estimated at well over $1 million — and five moderately-priced condos.

The group also claims that residents living close to the project, located at the corner of San Vicente Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, are concerned about the impact of removing more than 30,000 cubic yards of soil for underground parking. The project is located across the street from Palisades Park and its bluffs, which City Hall has identified as having a high potential for landslides.

A representative from Dallas-based Trammell Crow, the company developing the condo project, said Thursday it would not comment on the appeal until it had time to properly review it.

“We strongly believe an environmental impact report is necessary,” said Titus Wapato, Taylor’s partner of more than 20 years and a staunch critic of Trammell Crow. “The loss of that many working-class people … will have a ripple effect that will go through the [Third Street] Promenade and clear across the city.”

Taylor said she was saddened to see many long-time neighbors forced to move to other cities or other states, severing strong bonds.

“It has been a heartbreak for the neighborhood,” Taylor said.

The condo complex, which consists of three separate buildings surrounding a 5,000 square-foot central courtyard at the corner of Ocean Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, will replace the former home of Santa Monica’s first female mayor, Clo Hoover, who led the fight against the demolition of the Santa Monica and Newcomb piers and the construction of an island in the Santa Monica Bay.

Preservationists lobbied for the building to be landmarked based on its association with Hoover, who built the 47-unit apartment complex during the 1950s with her husband, Chester, when they moved to Santa Monica from Kentucky. It served as the couple’s primary residence and a source of income.

The Landmarks Commission, on a 4-3 vote, in January of last year granted the apartment complex landmark status; however, the decision was appealed to the City Council by Trammell Crow, one of the nation’s largest developers. The council, on a 4-2 vote, overturned the designation roughly six months later, paving the way for demolition.

Residents were forced to relocate last year during the landmarks process.

Trammell Crow purchased the building in 2007.

The proposed condo project will feature three buildings. Two are expected to be four stories in height, while a third will be three stories. As part of City Hall’s Affordable Housing Production Program, Trammell Crow agreed to set aside five, two-bedroom units for moderate-income households, which in Santa Monica means a family of four earning $82,800 a year.

Forty-three subterranean parking spaces will be provided.

The project was headed to the Architectural Review Board following approval from the Planning Commission last month, but the meeting is expected to be put on hold pending the appeal. Taylor said a date for the council hearing has not yet been set.


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