Sustainability at what cost?


In your recent article on November 28th, “City Hall Expansion Approved by Planning Commission” you missed mentioning one of the most important parts of the story, the exorbitant $86 million cost of this project to taxpayers.

The attempt to qualify for the “Living Building Challenge” level of sustainability for the new City Services Building project has become “financially” unsustainable. The City Council and Staff have not produced a cost-benefit analysis regarding the issue of “green sustainability” versus ultimate “financial sustainability” including a discussion of the long-term maintenance of the building’s unproven and extremely complex subsystems and what taxpayers should be expected to pay for city staff office space.

This analysis should include costs of recently constructed “typical” city office space in other southern California municipalities. As a point of reference, let us compare the presently proposed City Services Building project to the recently opened LEED Gold – African American History & Culture Museum on the National Mall in Washington DC. This new Smithsonian building is built at a very high museum quality and cost $270 million for 350,000 square feet. This works out to about $771 per square foot. The Santa Monica City Services Building, at its current $86 million budget and 50,000 square feet will cost more than twice as much at $1720 per square foot.

David Garden

Santa Monica