Hello, everyone. Did you miss me?

I’m back from London where I had a wonderful 12 days. I apologize for the missing two columns. Columns for Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 had been written. I was planning to “final polish” them before my Dell desktop crashed during incompetent attempts at repair of a printer connectivity issue by iYogi, an independent service contractor remotely controlling it from Mumbai, India.

You’ve heard of the dreaded “blue screen of doom”? I got the “black screen of death.” Everything shut down and the Dell wouldn’t even reboot. I called “warranty service” and they suggested I disconnect and reconnect all cables and, push buttons on and off. “What do you see on your monitor,” the Dell technician asked?

“Nothing… eternal darkness.” Of course, recovery of any files including the two pending My Writes was impossible. It’s the first time my columns have not run as scheduled.

Dell tells me repair would require new hardware, but they couldn’t schedule a technician to install new parts before I was departing for England. I advised my editor of the situation. He said, “No problem. Enjoy.” So, I climbed on my Air New Zealand flight to London-Heathrow.

I’m now using a new HP laptop purchased from Staples immediately before I departed for London. While I’m able to read email and write my columns, I won’t know if all old files are permanently lost, until my old Dell desktop is fully serviced and evaluated. So much for life in the computer age.

Big developments expect approval

Some key developments are coming before the City Council in the next few weeks. 1301 4th Street, “The Plaza at Santa Monica” will go before City Council, Tuesday night, Oct. 20, for review. This massive development is particularly controversial because developer Metropolitan Pacific Capital (MPC) wants to build 148 ft. or 12 floors high! 12 floors? Seriously?

When this project went before council before review a few months ago, an alternate plan for an 84 foot version on the development (which is also too tall, by the way) was unanimously rejected. Council told MPC’s John Warfel to plan for the larger, more massive development he originally proposed for the 2.5 acre site – mainly because it offered twice as much “affordable” housing as the smaller version.

The developer’s proposal is for a 12-story project with 195 hotel rooms, 206,800 sq. ft. of office space, 40,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 48 “affordable” or income subsidized apartments, approximately 12,000 sq. ft. of cultural space, 51,000 sq. ft. of public open space and a 4-level subterranean garage with 1,100 parking spots.

The project’s star architect-generated zigzag design features cantilevered floor plates set in angled clusters soaring to 148 ft. high. It’s a highly conspicuous design, totally out of scale with downtown Santa Monica. Its massive size and shape will dominate the skyline and open doors for equally over-sized, if not more massive, developments in the future.

Worst of all, this is being considered before an updated Downtown Specific Plan has been publicly reviewed and implemented. Giving this behemoth the “go ahead” now would be putting the cart before the horse and be the worst planning mistake since the “transit mall.”

In an era where most folks want serious height and massing restrictions citywide, this is a slap in the face, no matter how many low-income apartments MPC’s Warfel dangles like a carrot in front of our housing-obsessed city council.

It’s developments like this that have locals angry and frustrated. This “Plaza” must be dramatically scaled back. If City Council doesn’t have the courage to rein it in, LUVE, a Residocracy-initiated ballot measure restricting heights and density citywide, will surely become the law of the land, thus taking the politics and social engineering out of the planning process where it doesn’t belong to begin with.

Two NMS projects — 1560 Lincoln and 1415 4th St. are before council tomorrow evening (Oct. 13) for approval of development agreements.

If approved, prolific Santa Monica apartment developer NMS Properties, Inc. (NMS1550LINCOLN, LLC) will build a new 5-floor (60 ft. tall), 102,500 sq. ft. mixed-use project consisting of 100 residential units, 13,800 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial space, and 232 parking spaces within a 3-level subterranean parking garage at 1560 Lincoln Boulevard (Denny’s). Done deal, my friends.

A second development agreement to allow construction of a new 6-floor (84 feet high), 52,545 sq. ft. mixed-use/apartment project consisting of 64 rental units, 6,345 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial space, and 105 parking spaces within a 3-level subterranean parking garage at 1415 5th Street is also going before council tomorrow evening.

The applicant is NMS Properties, LLC, again (1415NMS, LLC). At 84 ft., this is also too tall and it’s another big brick in the expanding 80 ft.-plus tall wall of new downtown apartment buildings recently built, under construction and awaiting official approval.

Finally, the draft Environmental Impact Report for the huge, 84-foot high, mixed-use/apartment project on the Fred Segal site is available for review. Proposed for 500 Broadway, it would consist of the development of a 316,653 sq. ft. building with 262 residential units and 68,093 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Traffic planning faux-pas continue

Saw this on Facebook while in the UK: “Michigan Greenway… “City is doing a survey of residents’ opinions on ‘green speed bumps’ that now fester on Michigan Blvd from Lincoln, east. The surveyor said ‘locals are against’.” Another big win for the traffic planning and engineering staff?

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

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