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A Development Philosphy

The overriding issue of 2014 is the desire to transform our city by developers. Most of these are from other parts of the United States with little connection to our long established beach culture in Santa Monica. 

There are over forty proposed projects in our eight square mile city. Among these are four towers of 14 stories or higher between 4th Street and Palisades Park in downtown, a plethora of mixed use apartments planned for the east end of Wilshire Blvd, additional downtown mixed use housing complexes, mixed use buildings planned or approved on Lincoln Blvd and, of course, the recently citizen rejected Bergamot Village Plan (Hines Plan). 

Over 3200 housing units would be built if every proposed project is built. Our building heights and the density of new construction would increase as well. For many years, we enjoyed a percentage of open space in every new building constructed, setbacks from the sidewalk, and taller buildings were tiered. In most of the new mixed use projects that are being approved this is no longer the case. Developers are being allowed to maximize their property and we are receiving projects that will eventually create a canyon of buildings in our city.

In addition, the once sacred R2 & R3 zones are seeing hotel encroachment, the possibilities of day care centers and/or bed & breakfasts springing up and a great disregard for the sanctity of our residential neighborhoods.

Our fundamental discussion must be about what is the uniqueness of Santa Monica. How do we improve the areas of our city that need change without destroying the reason(s) that we love our city. I believe in change but unfettered growth that is detrimental to our neighborhoods and our residents must be stopped. 

I'm been called a "anti-growth" or a "slow growth" person lately. I disagree with that label. I'm all for growth that continues to give our city an authentic, organic, sustainable label. Visitors come to our city to see Santa Monica, not an extension of Los Angeles. Our residents live here because of the uniqueness and charm of our city. We love our local businesses, our unique restaurants, our small apartment houses, and charming cottages. When we destroy rent controlled housing to build a new, mixed use apartment house we are losing our individual identity as a city. When prices rise so high that a unique business finds it better to sell than to stay we lose our character.

I'm part of a "rebel" salon that meets weekly in our city. We meet out of necessity and sometimes out of despair for the future of this city that we all love so much. It's called the SM a.r.t group and I want to share our common goals for Santa Monica with you. By the way, these goals do not include approval of the Bergamot Plan, the Miramar Plan or any other plan that will cause all of us to fall out of love with our city.

I support the goals of this group of talented, passionate citizens.

The Genesis and 5 Point Philosophy of SM a.r.t.                         

(SM Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)  

In mid 2013, a group of design professionals met to discuss their concerns regarding the City’s direction.

The group took the acronym SMa.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow).  It's goal is to join a discussion that until now had been dominated by Developers and City Staff. They believed that proposed projects and policies currently before the City were often misunderstood due to their complexity and the bias of their presenters. The intent of SM a.r.t.’s members is to use their professional experience to clarify the issues and provide a framework (set of goals) to assist residents in framing the issues and joining the discussion on the City’s future.   

SM a.r.t evaluates projects and policies based on the
extent to which they exemplify the following 5 goals:

1. To preserve Santa Monica’s “relaxed” beach culture
Santa Monica's temperate climate on the Pacific Rim is a defining feature of our City. The cooling sea breezes along our oceanfront have played a big part in the City's cultural heritage and allure.  The City's "relaxed" style differentiates it from neighboring cities to the east and should be preserved- both for its residents as well as for those that visit each year to escape “the hustle and bustle” of urban life.

2.    To maximize light, air, views and green space
The views and skyline of our community are disappearing due to high-walled buildings that block the ocean breezes and sunlight inland.  We should continue to provide more open space and keep new construction in scale with the existing building stock.  New parks and open space should be a priority.

 3.  To build at a human scale and for family life
The City’s relaxed, seaside character and human
scale plays an important role in its allure. The currently proposed high-rise developments that dwarf their neighbors will forever redefine the skyline and character of the City. The
low-rise residential buildings, that are better suited for families, are being replaced by multi-story projects with fewer bedrooms and little connection to life at ground level.

 4.   To create a walkable, bikeable and drivable city
In the great European cities, the pedestrian experience is enhanced with large sidewalks, outdoor cafes and unique shopping opportunities. The result is a dynamic street life for pedestrians and bikers that fosters interaction and brings the city to life.  If the currently proposed developments move forward, the circulation within the City will continue to deteriorate increasing delays and frustration for its residents.

5. To be a smart, connected & sustainable community
The City has taken a leading role in being model for Sustainable living.  California is in the midst of a serious drought and rainfall is at record lows.  It is incumbent upon the City to make sure that our resources and facilities are adequate for the current population before allowing for more growth. Sustainable technologies must become part of the City’s energy plan as it prepares for its future. 

SMa.r.t.  (Santa Monica Architects For A Responsible Tomorrow)

Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Ron Goldman FAIA, Bob Taylor AIA, Dan Jansenson Architect, Armen Melkonians P.E., Sam Tolkin Architect, Thane Roberts AIA, Phil Brock Recreation & Parks Commission.

Paid for by Committee to Elect Phil Brock For City Council - id#1392146 - 1328 Twelfth Street Santa Monica, Ca 90401
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