|The LookOut Letters to the Editor|
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No Development Agreements to Demolish Affordable Housing
June 8, 2009
Dear City Council,
Trammell Crow Company, a large Texas-based development group, recently purchased the property at 301 Ocean Avenue and then evicted the 47 families living there. Their plan is to tear down the existing building and replace the current affordable housing with high-end luxury condominiums priced for millions of dollars each.
We are concerned that Trammell Crow Company may soon seek a “Development Agreement” from City Council, granting them the right to build a bigger project at 301 Ocean than current zoning allows.
SMCLC has gone on record opposing "Development Agreements," which enable developers to build larger structures than they could under the current zoning code. "Development Agreements" make a sham of zoning as they allow wealthy developers to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us: If you don't like the zoning, you can change it for your project. Additionally, residents don't have a voice when these backroom deals are made; deals that profoundly affect their neighborhoods.
SMCLC urges the Council not to grant, or enter into discussions to grant, Trammell Crow Company a "Development Agreement" for the 301 Ocean Avenue site. Such a deal would be an affront to all Santa Monica residents concerned about the ongoing destruction of affordable housing.
We believe that City Council should be doing everything in its power to protect affordable housing, not incentivizing developers to demolish it by allowing them to build even larger, more profitable projects than the City normally allows.
Negotiating an agreement with Trammell Crow Company under these circumstances would be rewarding the worst kind of corporate behavior, encouraging developers to continue to evict Santa Monica families from their homes.
We suspect Trammell Crow Company will approach the City to ask to negotiate such an agreement. We will be watching carefully to see how the City responds and to see the message Council sends to developers who seek to destroy Santa Monica affordable housing.