CITY HALL — An annual summary of developments governed by special agreements in Santa Monica found that all of the finished projects are meeting the obligations they have to City Hall.

That’s a departure from last year’s report, which found that four — including Saint John’s Health Center, Yahoo! Center, the Paseo del Mar housing development and the Dorchester House — had not met their commitments to various degrees.

Development agreements are special contracts between City Hall and developers that allow them to build outside of the zoning code in exchange for benefits that City Hall could not otherwise ask for.

In the past, several of those commitments went unchecked, the most significant of which was the 442-space subterranean parking garage and new entry plaza that Saint John’s Health Center was obligated to build as part of its development agreement.

In 2007, the hospital asked for a 10-year extension so that it could lease off-site parking spaces and operate a valet service in the meantime.

In mid-2011, the City Council voted to amend both Saint John’s and the Yahoo! Center agreements, bringing them into compliance by axing some key provisions, like the parking structure, and putting in place new requirements.

In the hospital’s case, that included providing even more parking off-site than would have been necessary using the garage, extra protections for the neighborhood and implementing a traffic reduction program to make it easier for the neighborhood.

The Yahoo! Center was given permission to lease out over 1,000 parking spaces — some of which went to Saint John’s to meet its requirements — which it was already doing prior to the amendment.

In exchange, City Hall got another program meant to cut down on traffic and congestion in the area.

Neither development has to provide proof that it’s meeting its new obligations for one calendar year after its amended agreement was signed, said Planning Director David Martin.

That means that staff will not report on the new provisions put in place to excuse the loss of the older requirements until 2013.

All in all, City Hall has made 20 development agreements since the practice began in the 1980s and there are another five in development.

Of those, 12 projects are built and have been found to be in full compliance with their development agreements. Two, the St. Monica Catholic Community and Agensys, are being built and construction hasn’t started on the remaining six.

Development agreements became the go-to method of getting major projects built in Santa Monica, particularly as City Hall moved to redo its Land Use and Circulation Element, or LUCE.

That took seven years of public process to complete.

City Hall has just begun the process to create a new zoning ordinance, which will put the values of the LUCE in action throughout the city.

ashley@www.smdp.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.