The saga of the Saint John’s Health Center parking garage continues. According to its 1998 Development Agreement (DA) with City Hall, Saint John’s was supposed to build a 442 stall subterranean parking garage near its new hospital.

The operating words here are “supposed to,” because Saint John’s has delayed construction on the facility and is now asking to amend its DA to allow the leasing of hundreds of parking spaces at the Yahoo! Center more than a block away instead of building the promised garage on its own property.

Saint John’s is currently leasing some parking at the Yahoo! Center. Its owner, CA-Colorado Center, LLC, will ask the Planning Commission Wednesday evening to amend its DA to change the center’s parking ratio from the current one parking stall for every 322 square feet of office space to one parking stall for every 500.

If approved, this would allegedly create surplus parking, so Yahoo! Center’s owners are also requesting authorization to lease up to 1,053 spaces to off-site parties such as Saint John’s and auto dealers. Amendment approval would “officially” authorize shared parking not covered by the center’s DA. Owners claim that they have leased parking to non-tenants for years and this amendment will still allow sufficient parking for its on-site tenants.

There are a couple areas of concern to me. If the amendment is approved and Yahoo! Center eventually leases all its office/retail space to the maximum, couldn’t this “authorization” lead to a shortage of on-site parking? 

Center owners seem to be predicating their request for more generous parking ratios on a theory that there is less need for tenant parking now then 30 years ago when the then named Colorado Place was built. Problem is insufficient on-site parking could lead to vehicular overflow into surrounding neighborhoods.

In order for Saint John’s to receive approval from the Planning Commission and City Council of the pending application to amend its own DA (to permit a 10-year “shared parking” arrangement at the Yahoo! Center), the Yahoo! Center’s DA must also be amended. 

Interested parties and neighbors might want to oppose Yahoo! Center’s request because once Saint John’s receives a legal, long-term commitment to park vehicles at the center and elsewhere, there will be absolutely no incentive to build any on-site parking. Once more, if the shared parking blocks away from the health center is not utilized — or terminated — parking problems around Saint John’s will exacerbate.

One more thing: shuttles and other vehicles cycling between Saint John’s and the Yahoo! Center will increase traffic in this already highly-congested neighborhood.

The public meeting on Yahoo! Center’s amendment will be held before the Planning Commission, Wednesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall. Public comment is encouraged.

 

Accolade for Officer Holloway  

Congratulations to Santa Monica police officer Jacob Holloway for receiving the “2011 Stepping In Humanitarian Award” last Wednesday. 

The award was presented at the “2011 Stepping In Conference” sponsored by 4th District Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe (who presented the award) and College Hospitals — College Health Enterprises. Holloway was selected for the award by the 2011 Conference Committee.

The conference’s Humanitarian Award is bestowed annually on an individual who has accomplished exemplary work with mentally ill people. Holloway received this year’s award because of his work with Santa Monica’s homeless population including those with mental illnesses.

Holloway is one of six officers in the department’s Homeless Liaison Program (HLP Team) and is often described as “a social service worker in uniform.”

Typically, he makes sure people in need are informed about services and/or housing opportunities and have access to proper physical and mental care and other support.

This could mean everything from driving a sick or injured person to a hospital, to assisting with paperwork for obtaining services, working with a consulate or embassy on behalf of a mentally ill “homeless” foreign visitor or following up on his own to see “how someone I helped is getting along.” 

The Stepping In Conference is an annual educational forum designed to assist law enforcement personnel, mental health professionals, first responders and other service providers with the most current information, research and protocols available for those with mental issues.

This year’s theme concerned dealing with workplace, schoolyard and public violence. Roughly 600 mental health professionals and law enforcement specialists attended the conference at the Double Tree Hotel in Norwalk, Calif.

In accepting the award, a very surprised Holloway said that he couldn’t perform his duties without the full backing of his fellow officers, the command staff of the SMPD, City Hall’s Human Services Division and a “support system all the way up to the city attorney.”

He said, “It is a privilege to work for the city of Santa Monica because of its commitment to helping people.”

Here in Santa Monica, we’re privileged to have Officer Holloway working for us.

 

 

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

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