Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

ROQUE & MARK Co. Real Estate 310.828.7525

Home Special Reports Archive Links The City Commerce About Contacts Editor Send PR

Pressure Builds for Open Hearing on Civic Auditorium

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Good Vibes Start Here. Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 434-4000


By Jorge Casuso

July 24, 2023 -- History is repeating itself and only "a resident revolt" like the one that saved the Pier 50 years ago can secure the future of Santa Monica's iconic Civic Auditorium, the city's leading slow-growth group warned Sunday.

The warning from the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) comes two days before the Council discusses the sale of the historic 1958 building behind closed doors.

The Council is "proceeding full speed ahead on liquidating this irreplaceable community property," Coalition leaders wrote in a letter Sunday urging supporters to demand a public hearing.

"The Civic is every bit as iconic as our Pier. While demolition may not be on the table, privatizing this public space most certainly is.

"In fact, it appears Councilmembers are about to sell or commit to a long-term lease of this public space with no public discussion," the Coalition wrote.

According to Tuesday's closed session agenda, the Council will hold a conference with the City's real estate negotiator to discuss the "price and terms of payment for sale."

The Council will discuss negotiations with the two parties that responded to the City's Notice of Availability (NOA) -- the School District and Community Corporation, Santa Monica's biggest public housing provider.

On Friday City Attorney Doug Sloan said the City is following the State's opening meetings act by "first having an open session, allowing the public to comment on closed session items, then the clerk announces the closed session items.

"All of the details of the property and negotiating parties are listed in the agenda titles," ("Civic Auditorium Back on Closed Session Agenda," July 21, 2023).

In a post on the City's website Friday, Assistant City Attorney Susan Cola added that "any entitlements for future use" would "need to proceed through the normal public process."

Such entitlements potentially include "amendments to the Civic Center Specific Plan, resolution of the landmark status of the building, environmental review, and all other discretionary planning actions."

"Currently, the Civic Center Specific Plan does not allow for housing to be built within the plan area," Cola said. "Changes to the zoning and Specific Plan would require public hearings and community input."

Stan Epstein, a City Hall watchdog, expects that Tuesday's "secret session will deal with dozens of major terms and conditions" in violation of the Brown Act.

"On Tuesday, there will be no Staff Report on the two items or relevant documents provided to the public," Epstein, a retired New York real estate attorney, wrote in a letter to a local news outlet.

"In this case, the Report would probably be about 20 pages if there were an open meeting. How can anyone comment meaningfully when the City tells no one what is being proposed at the secret session?

"There will be no open discussion by Council; no motions or amendments thereof; no votes on anything but a bare bones proposal approving the undisclosed deal reached behind closed doors," Epstein wrote.

In their letter to supporters, Coalition leaders recalled the resident revolt that saved the Pier from demolition (For details on the battle see the Lookout's four-part series "The Road to the Sea," September 28, 2003).

"Fifty years ago, the Pier was saved by residents who stopped their City Council from making a tragic mistake," the Coalition wrote.

"History has vindicated those residents. And the Council members who voted to demolish the Pier? None of them ever were re-elected again," the letter concluded.

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2023 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures