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Mixed-Use Project on Lincoln Will Have “Devastating” Impact, Neighbors Claim in Appeal
By Niki Cervantes
April 23, 2018 -- Neighbors are appealing a four-story apartment mixed-use project on Lincoln Boulevard to the City Council Tuesday, saying it would have a “devastating impact in perpetuity” to neighbors and commuters alike.
The 59,319-square-foot project at 2903 Lincoln Boulevard developed by the CIM Group includes 47 apartments, ground-floor businesses and a two-level underground garage for 151 vehicles and 98 bicycles.
The project, on a 32,277-square-foot parcel between Ashland Avenue and Wilson Place, has for decades been home to auto shops and other small businesses that generated far less traffic than the proposed project, residents said.
Opponents also voice concern about the past involvement of the City’s head of planning, David Martin, with CIM Group.
“It is difficult to ignore that Planning Director David Martin was Vice President of the CIM Group from 1999 to 2009,” said Rachel Kelley, who filed the appeal on behalf of neighbors.
“Today, CIM Group, who has for a while been absent from the Santa Monica development scene, currently has three projects active in the City.”
Martin was not available for comment.
According to his profile on Linked in, Martin started his professional career as an assistant planner for the City of Torrance from 1986 to 1987, going to the City of Santa Monica as an assistant/associate city planner from 1987 until 1999 and then shifting to the private sector, where he served as vice president at CIM from 1999 until 2009.
Martin returned to the City of Santa Monica in 2009 as deputy director of planning and was named head of the department in 2011. His title is Director of Planning and Community Development.
The appeal heads to the council at its regular Tuesday meeting in City Hall Council Chambers at 1685 Main Street. the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. with a closed-door session on pending litigation. Regular business is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
The 2903 Lincoln development was approved 5-2 by the City Planning Commission on January 10, despite opposition from neighbors.
Those streets are “two of the steepest, narrowest sub-standard-width streets in the city” and have battled cut-through traffic for decades, Kelley said.
In the appeal, Kelley said the development would impact those living on the southwest corner of the Sunset Park neighborhood, as well as the Ocean Park neighborhood, and “every commuter that relies on Lincoln Blvd.”
“2903 Lincoln Blvd exceeds the restrictions of our local zoning and places an extraordinary burden on our neighborhood,” the appeal said.
“After enduring almost two years of construction impacts from CIM Group’s adjacent 2919 Lincoln Blvd project, why wouldn’t the planning staff work to protect the neighborhood from an excessive and unnecessary additional construction burden created by not enforcing development standards?”
On Sunday, Friends of Sunset Park, the neighborhood group representing area residents, said it supports the appeal. In a letter to the Council, the group said the project is "just too big, and it is not compatible with the rest of the neighborhood!"
The neighbors' appeal asked the Council to overturn the Planning Commission’s vote to grant a Development Review Permit (DRP) to CIM.
A DRP is required for any project that exceeds the City’s Tier 1 standards, or developments generally exceeding heights of 36 feet (usually three stories) and greater-than-usual density levels.
Staff recommends that the appeal be rejected.
Martin’s report on the issue to the council says the development meets the land-use goals of the City, as well as the desired redevelopment of Lincoln Boulevard from a commuter (and often gridlocked) thoroughfare to one that will be dominated by multi-family housing and a family-friendly atmosphere.
Dozens of apartment/mixed-used projects are either planned or already approved for Lincoln and other commuter-oriented boulevards.
Although the boulevards will grow in density as a result, the City is championing alternative transportation in an effort to keep the growing population from adding to congestion.
In the current case, the appeal said, approval by the Council “telegraphs to developers that our zoning ordinance doesn’t really apply to them; and to residents that their well-being and safety don’t matter.”
The project is “untethered by local law, sketchy and incomplete on detail, deceptive in scale and inadequately studied for traffic,” the appeal said.
“The residents of Santa Monica deserve better accountability from their elected leaders and commission appointees.”
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