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LETTERS -- 'The Plaza' Project Raises Questions Staff Won't Answer

July 31, 2020

Dear Editor,

I find it unbelievably odd that the Santa Monica Council gave more weight to the voices of Local 11 members than to those of residents who for years have been opposed to the “Plaza” project ("Santa Monica Council Votes to Continue Negotiations on 'The Plaza' Project Downtown," July 29, 2020).

Union 11 speaker after speaker parroted the same refrain, often twice, once in Spanish and then translated: Santa Monica has enough parks, “Red” (sic) and the Palisade. I want affordable housing. I approve this project.” Obviously they had been coached to say these things.

The well-thought out presentations by residents who objected to the project were ignored. The threat by the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) to contest the decision in court was ignored.

Why? Doesn’t Santa Monica spend an enormous enough amount on staff lawyers and outside counsel? The Council didn’t even discuss the idea that the whole project is illegal based on state law which requires the City to offer “excess” land for various uses other than private development, including for a park that residents so often advocated.

Now that the Council has decided to continue negotiations, let the public hear what the “benefits” in jobs, housing and revenue would be if the project ever gets finished and the developer doesn’t flip the land for an enormous profit.

Where is the developer’s projection of these goodies? What revenue is promised since the project would pay zero rent? Where is the staff evaluation of what the economy will look like in the near future?

Do we really need more hotel rooms when the Coronavirus may impact travel for years? Do we really need more office space when working from home becomes enshrined?

As for more housing, do we really need more density in Santa Monica? Hasn’t our brilliant staff read the reports that density makes cities more susceptible to epidemics?

Just how much more of a burden can our infrastructure and water supply bear? Where’s the analysis? Isn’t that staff’s job?

Harriet P. Epstein
Santa Monica


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