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By John C. Smith

They say the monsters from your past will keep coming at you until you kill them off for good. Such is the case with the newly-spawned Miramar mega-hotel project now being peddled by high-powered suits with deep connections and deeper pockets to Santa Monica’s Planning Commission and City Council.

Voters may remember how in 2014 a certain City Council candidate I still admire ran a campaign ad referring to the previous Miramar redesign as a 320-foot “Godzilla.” The ad generated enough buzz to help kill that Miramar monster and catapult the candidate onto the Council. Yet here we are again, fighting the newest “Miramar-azilla, this one shorter but a LOT fatter and wider and twice the size of the current hotel. This new monster looks like a giant cruise ship that somehow got ship-wrecked and bent like a boomerang, with a huge wall that will kill off the sunshine on Second Avenue between Wilshire and California forever. The developers also want to move the main hotel entrance off Wilshire and onto Second, which will crush much of the Wilshire-Montana neighborhood near it with daily traffic. One can easily imagine the long line of luxury cars snaking down Wilshire, all waiting to take a right onto Second then a left into the new Monster Miramar. Another entrance for employees on California Ave. will kill access to the Incline, while the wealthy utilize their own entrance on Ocean.

There’s more… this new monster will have more than 300 newly-designed hotel rooms most of us will never spend even a single night in. Plus, don’t forget the 60 luxury condos they want to sell for $5 million apiece so billionaire computer mogul Michael S. Dell (MSD Capitol, get it?) won’t have to shell out any of his fortune to build it. It’s hard, you know, super-sizing existing hotels when you’re only worth about $27-billion or so.

Now, if you’re thinking the city MUST be getting something spectacular in return, you’re mistaken. Oh, MSD says the city will get 30-40 affordable housing units across the street, but that number keeps changing based on the number of luxury condos Dell gets to build. MSD also says the amount of money the city gets will go from about $7.5 million a year to more like $15 million. So they get twice the hotel and the city gets twice the annual revenue, right? Well, the developers can pay off the city with the sale of just one or two condos and keep all the rest. And those rosy revenue projections are pre-covid-19. Tourism revenue was already flattening even before the pandemic. “Hope”, as a good friend once told me, “is not a strategy.”

The developers also claim the project will create “hundreds” of good-paying hotel worker jobs. But before that ever happens, something else will happen first: Other hotel workers will be paid to flood the Planning Commission and City Council with form letters and testimonials about how badly those jobs are needed. The economy is tough, but in California, just about any entity can create jobs which pay $15-$17/hour. If you really want to help hotel workers, help them and their kids get at least two free years of college so maybe they can eventually get jobs that pay more than $17/hour. MSD-Capitol also claims the Miramar monster will provide other “community benefits” such as “open space.” Sorry, Michael. A wide driveway full of Mercedes is not “open space.” Pathways lined with flowers and plants leading from the pool to the main convention ballroom are hotel amenities, not community benefits. And I still don’t understand how you’re going to build all around and under that beautiful, landmarked fig tree for three straight years without hurting it.

One more very important thing that has NOT been addressed in the EIR… What impact will all that pounding and trucking and steel beams and cement and construction have on the fragile Pacific Palisades bluffs less than 75 yards away? We have already lost much of the cliffs to erosion in just the past 20 years. Now MSD-C wants to dig a huge hole for an underground parking garage then pack a monster hotel twice the current size in it. You don’t have to be a geologist to understand how such a huge project endangers the most beautiful park in America.

Council, do you really want to take that chance? Do YOU?

I could go on and on, but this monster is just like the other ones and it’s time to kill it for good. Let the Miramar make over their hotel and allow them to make it a LITTLE bigger to pay for some affordable housing. Put the main entrance where it should be, on Wilshire. And provide some REAL open space by kicking in a few million toward REAL open space like a DOWNTOWN park. If this new monster Miramar wants to be as great a benefit to the community as Michael Dell’s minions say it is, then let him be a true friend of the community and stop trying to build Miami where the Miramar now stands.

Saturday night my wife and I went for a nighttime bike ride through the city. We walk Palisades Park often. Sadly, if you do the same you will see and feel the city changing, and not for the better. The Promenade is dying. The problems and crime are growing worse along with the homelessness. There’s an edginess that wasn’t there even five years ago. Santa Monica just doesn’t feel as much like Santa Monica anymore. And one of the reasons it feels that way is because your city leaders are doubling down on the same, tired strategies and pushing ahead with things like more and bigger monster hotels.

Like the one just green-lighted at 4th, 5th and Arizona.

What can you do? Simply write two or three lines in an email to the Planning Commissioners meeting Wednesday night. Zoom in and give them a piece of your mind from home. Do the same before the Council votes on the project. Tell them you won’t vote for them if they approve it. Tell them we don’t need any more monster hotels.

We have enough monsters to fight already.