Local business owners have obtained a temporary order from the courts to prevent demolition and redevelopment of a Downtown parking structure.

The City of Santa Monica would like to demolish Downtown Parking Structure 3 and build affordable housing on the site but a coalition of property owners believe the project is ill-conceived.

The Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association (SMBOA) filed a lawsuit to try and stop it earlier this year and on Dec. 17, the judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the project from moving forward until the next hearing on Jan. 7. At that time, a trial judge will consider whether to grant a preliminary injunction preventing demolition until a final judgment is made.

If a preliminary injunction is made in January, the project will be halted until the trial judge makes a judgment over a permanent injunction. According to City Public Information Officer Constance Farrell, this final judgment would likely not take place until mid-2022.

The suit was filed by SMBOA against the City and California Coastal Commission. The SMBOA is a not for profit 501(c)(6) organization made up of property owners and business owners in and around the Third Street Promenade.

In addition to granting the temporary restraining order on Dec. 17, the judge also ordered the SMBOA to post a $125,000 bond to cover the City’s damages in the event the City wins the suit.

SMBOA’s lawsuit alleges that the City unlawfully received a Coastal Development Permit from the Coastal Commission by claiming an inapplicable exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit further alleges that the City and Commission did not complete an adequate environmental review of the project and did not consider evidence presented showing the negative environmental and community impacts the proposed demolition would have Downtown.

SMBOA also takes issue with the fact that the demolition was approved without a plan in place for what developer will build the affordable housing project and what the development will look like.

“The truth is that the City has purposefully evaded the basic requirements for environmental review in order to push through an unapproved, speculative, infeasible and undefined mixed-use affordable housing project,” states the lawsuit in the initial August filing.

The City and Coastal Commission deny the allegations and are fighting the petition for a permanent injunction in court.

The demolition of Parking Structure 3 was approved by the Coastal Commission on May 13. Commission staff primarily based their recommendation on a study by Walker Consultants, which concluded that the loss of Parking Structure 3’s spaces would not adversely impact parking availability and coastal access in the surrounding area.

The structure is located at 4th St and Arizona Ave, in close proximity to the Promenade, and contains 337 spaces. In 2013 the City rebuilt Parking Structure 6 with an additional 400 spaces, which proponents of the demolition say will account for spaces lost in Parking Structure 3.

The SMBOA disagrees and believes that the Parking Structure 3 is a necessary parking resource.