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

City Approves $141,000,000 City Hall Annex,

At 50,000 square feet, the building will cost ten times what private construction firms pay


February 3, 2017

On Tuesday, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a 50,000-square-foot project that will cost $141 million, including finance costs. The excuse given for the extremely high cost ($2820/square foot) is that the building will be "sustainable" and be a candidate to win Green awards. $100 to $200 a foot are common figures for construction estimators.

According to Constance Farrell, City Public Information Officer, the building will pay for itself in 30 years and "dramatically save costs thereafter as we won't be leasing space across the city."

City residents opposed the building at the council meeting. David Garden was joined by four neighborhood groups and many resident emails in opposing the construction. One opponent called the council "pseudo-green egotistical, trophy-loving hypocrites."

It is unlikely that in 30 years the city staff will not have grown to the point the city will still need to lease space outside the annex. Already, staff has grown to fill up the "space to grow" originally designed into the annex. It is also unlikely the building will last past the 30 years it will take to "pay for itself." By then, the needs of the constantly growing, well-paid Santa Monica government will have outgrown the usefulness of the extraordinarily expensive building.

But the city council can rest easy that their personal human waste will be composting beneath their well-shod feet - except that it won't. No so-called sustainable building has been able to have their composting toilets approved by local health agencies (thank God), and the waste will still be piped to real waste treatment plants.

Farrell denied the accuracy of David Garden's figures. "Please read this information from Susan Cline regarding the cost of the building and why it makes smart economic sense," she wrote.

"The cost of the building is $75 million and this includes bonding. This building is costly - construction costs have risen sharply - it will pay for itself in 30 years and will dramatically save costs thereafter as we won't be leasing space across the city."


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