An annual review of the city’s Development Agreements found all 33 properties in good faith compliance with their contracts.

A real estate Development Agreement, or DA, allows developers to build beyond zoning restrictions in return for community benefits like fees or open space. Because they are individually negotiated, each agreement contains unique time frames, obligations and requirements – including fees, physical improvements and ongoing services.

“The standard is not black and white but it is based on the whole of the activity the developer is engaging in and our review of that,” said Principal Planner Roxanne Tanemori at the April 10 City Council meeting. Tanemori’s report looked at the individual contracts for each property and whether the projects held up their end of the deal.

During the Tuesday night meeting, Council member Sue Himmelrich raised concerns about a provision in the DA for Colorado Center that requires public access to a park and meeting room. A neighborhood group trying to organize an event at the site was told they needed liability insurance in order to use the space. The group complained the requirement was costly and a burden.

“I am aware of the issue and we have been discussing it,” Tanemori said. She said the DA allows Colorado Center to impose reasonable restrictions that the city might make in its own parks. Since the city itself sometimes requires liability insurance for organized events at public parks, they found the imposition in line with the Development Agreement.

Mayor Ted Winterer said the public was benefiting from more follow up on DAs.

“Since about 2009 we’ve had these regular reports and it’s provided a mechanism for people to voice their concerns on any DA they might feel is out of compliance so I think we’re doing a better job than we may have in the past,” Winterer said.

Tanemori faced criticism that her report focused too much on traffic reduction strategies and not enough on the fees developers are required to pay to fund public parks, childcare facilities, affordable housing and other community benefits.

“There is much more to a Development Agreement than those issues and there is no accountability for those issues,” resident Nancy Coleman said, asking for more transparency on how the city collects fees and spends the money.

In response, Tanemori said the funds are a related but separate issue detailed in a different report. She said in the future her report may focus more on other issues, but historically the community has been most concerned with how large developments increase traffic on already congested streets.

“We just know that in general trip reduction is such an important and critical issue to the community we want to provide the detail on that,” Tanemori said

Three properties are in the process of implementing new strategies to get more employees to carpool or use public transportation to achieve their transportation goals. Colorado Center, Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Saint Monica’s Catholic Community have yet to meet their peak-hour Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) targets, according to Tanemori’s report.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press