A group of residents are continuing to fight plans to build a five-story apartment building near Santa Monica State Beach.

City Council will vote Tuesday whether to deny appeals filed by South Ocean Avenue Residents (SOAR) and UNITE HERE Local 11 that claim that the hoteliers behind the developments at 1828 Ocean Ave. and 1921 Ocean Front Walk will treat the buildings as an extension of their two adjacent hotels, Shutters on the Beach and Hotel Casa Del Mar. SOAR also argues the five-story 1828 Ocean Ave. building will box in the low-slung homes along Vicente Terrace.

City of Santa Monica staff is recommending Council deny the appeals and uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of both projects.

SOAR raises a number of issues with 1828 Ocean Ave. in its appeal, including that the development does not align with the City’s goals for the neighborhood and would lower surrounding property values. The group also contends that traffic generated by the project would compromise emergency access.

SOAR writes in its letter to Council that it is not opposed to the idea of a new building along Vicente, but asks that its design meshes with the street’s older buildings, not exceed 36 feet in height and sit 20 feet away from the curb.

Staff refutes the claims SOAR and UNITE HERE made in their appeals.

“The proposed building complies with the building height volume for the district, is consistent with the height and mass of surrounding buildings, and provides an additional voluntary setback along Vicente Terrace,” staff wrote. “Additionally, the proposed project complies with the goals and policies in that it is a mixed-use building with a small … ground floor café with residential as the proposed use on the upper floors.”

Staff also maintains that residents were given a fair public hearing on the project and that traffic generated by the project would not impact emergency access. There is no proof the building would impact property values, according to the staff report.

SOAR and UNITE HERE have concerns about the project beyond its design, however. They believe the hoteliers behind the projects will run them as de facto hotels, although the Planning Commission stipulated that the buildings must not be used as corporate housing when it approved them.

Santa Monica has been grappling with property owners converting rent-controlled apartments into corporate housing. Council moved last December to prohibit month-to-month leases in residential areas, agreeing that medium-term rentals are chipping away at the city’s permanent housing stock. SOAR and UNITE HERE say that the Ocean Avenue and Ocean Front Walk projects are an example of that trend.

“The project is arguably an extension of the Casa del Mar/Shutters hotel complex,” UNITE HERE wrote in a letter to Council.

Staff said the City has made it clear to the developers that the apartments must be used as permanent residences.

“If the project operates as corporate housing, lodging, or anything else not permitted in the Oceanfront District as defined by the Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC), the City would consider it an illegal operation,” staff wrote.

City Council will meet Tuesday, Apr. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1685 Main St.


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1 Comment

  1. I live on Ocean Way with a view of the beach from my patio. I can not wait to live in an artificial canyon with little view of even the sky.

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