Parking: Demolition may be delayed. Clara Harter

The City of Santa Monica is still planning to begin demolition on Feb. 14, unless a court issues a stay.

Opponents of the City’s plan to raze Parking Structure 3 (PS3) to replace it with affordable housing say they plan to file an appeal of the late January decision throwing their case out of LA County Superior Court.

On Friday, Feb. 4, John Alle, one of the founders of the stakeholder group Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association (SMBOA), which has waged a legal battle to block demolition of the 50-year-old structure, announced his legal team would be filing an appeal and writ of supersedeas to halt demolition, which is planned for Feb. 14.

A writ of supersedeas, if granted, would keep PS3 from being demolished until the appeal was heard in the LA County Court of Appeals.

On Friday, his legal team from the law office Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP asked Judge Mitchell Beckloff — who threw out their original case — to stay his Jan. 28 decision so that they could launch an appeal; that request was granted, giving attorneys Allan B. Cooper, Ellia Thompson and Jeffrey T. Harlan until Thursday, Feb. 10, to file their appeal.

SMBOA’s case was thrown out because their legal team missed a filing deadline in the case against the City of Santa Monica and California Coastal Commission. The attorneys had a 90 day window in which to file documents, which they missed by 22 days.

Speaking to the Daily Press on Friday, Thompson said they were “definitely going to appeal” Beckloff’s decision.

“If an attorney admits to having made an error — failed to file something, mis-calendared something, got confused about a date — the state legislature was very clear that the court had jurisdiction, both mandatory and discretionary, to grant such a motion so that, you know, the petitioner, the plaintiff, and the underlying action isn’t harmed because their attorney made a simple mistake,” Thompson said. “It’s a very, very harsh ruling that, in the midst of a pandemic, and everybody working remotely, an attorney mis-calendars one notice that is required — OK, it is required — but mis-calendars, failed to file, this one notice.”

Thompson went on to say she felt her client had a strong case that would have been won had it not been for the missed filing date.

The City of Santa Monica has so far not altered its plans to demolish the parking structure on Feb. 14.

“SMBOA asked the court for a longer stay that would extend for [the] entire appeal period,” Santa Monica spokesperson Constance Farrell wrote in an email on Friday afternoon. “The court denied SMBOA’s request so that the City’s planned demolition schedule can remain in place. Demolition is set to begin February 14th. The order outlines that the City can still close the parking structure and cease operations. Demolition will commence once the stay is lifted, which we are hopeful will happen.”

In documents filed by the City’s legal counsel, Santa Monica City Engineer Alex Nazarchuk said a stay in the demolition would adversely affect the project going forward.

“Delaying the start date of the PS 3 demolition project would have a significant financial impact on the project cost,” Nazarchuk said. “Each day that the project is delayed the materials, labor, disposal, and equipment costs for the project will increase due to inflation.”

The demolition would be the first step in a City plan to replace PS3 with a 120- to 150-unit affordable housing project, which has been in the works since 2018.

SMBOA argues that the project’s environmental impact report, or EIR, was not comprehensive and did not meet California Environmental Quality Act standards, since it did not address the housing project specifically, but had been done before there were plans to build housing at that location.

emily@smdp.com