Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Don't Blame Mr. Dell

 

November 4, 2013

We have received yet another slick flier from the Miramar Plan people. Illustrated is a beautiful colored rendering of the proposed new 21-story hotel (I won't insult you by calling it a renovation). The flier claims this tower - twice the size of the current structure - will "create affordable housing, ensure the Miramar redevelopment is economically viable and support the City's vision for Downtown."

Interestingly, the picture doesn't lie. The architectural drawing shows very clearly a building completely out of scale with its neighbors. Okay, there is a lie in the drawing. It doesn't show all the cars that will be swarming on the surrounding streets, trying to get to the 480 parking spaces for the 37,600 square feet of shops and restaurants, 160 condos, and 280 hotel rooms. In the drawing, the streets look remarkably clear, with no cars parked anywhere whatsoever.

Meanwhile, every word of the flier's claim is a lie.

1. The rebuilt Miramar will create affordable housing. Of 160 condominiums planned, only 40 will be "affordable." That's the plan anyway, whatever "affordable" means to these people. However, very few of recent Santa Monica residential developments have followed through on their pledges to include "affordable" units. Furthermore, the city does not enforce these pledges. So they're basically just feel-good empty promises. Meanwhile, the flier itself underscores the need for the developer of the hotel property to "be able to pay [the equity] back sooner rather than later" by selling residences. You don't accomplish that by selling ocean-view property at "affordable" prices. These are going to be top-top-top dollar condominiums. All of them. Why would it be otherwise? The kind heart of Miramar owner Michael Dell?

2. Including condominiums will ensure the economic viability of the Miramar redevelopment. Well, this isn't so much a lie as a logical fallacy. Is there a reason the residents of Santa Monica should care if Michael Dell makes (more) money? If the redevelopment isn't economically viable, then he shouldn't do it. The end. Kind of obvious.

3. The proposed redevelopment will support the City's vision for Downtown. Technically, the City doesn't yet have a vision for downtown. The Downtown Specific Plan has not been finalized. Even if they had, however, the vision of the City, with an upper case C, has not recently been the same as the vision of the city, with a lower case c. That is because the City is utterly focused on providing more tax revenue to an unsustainable salary and pension structure. They have little to zero interest in making sure residents are pleased with traffic, parking, views, density, et cetera. Pretty much none.

You see, present-day tax dollars are paying past-day pensions - on top of present-day salaries. It's top-heavy and it's going to topple if additional sources of revenue are not constantly being discovered. This is why Santa Monica is going to continue to build and build and build. (This is why, by the by, Santa Monica is so hot to get rid of the airport. Think of all the development dollars that could bring in, if all that tarmac turned into hotels and retail! Oh, did you really think they cared about noise and safety?)

All right, you've got me. It's not a lie. The proposed megalith Miramar development will, indeed, support the City's vision for Downtown. That vision is to make as much money as quickly as possible, and to hell with any other considerations.

But don't blame Michael Dell. He is not the only hotel owner in the area who has been approached by and egged on by our City to rebuild and enlarge his property. Michael Dell already has more money than God. What does he need with a new hotel? It's the City of Santa Monica, folks, who's desperate for more cash.

 

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