'Whacky' is a Kind Word to Describe Santa Monica Demolishing Parking Structure Number 3 Downtown
May 13 is a Coastal Commission hearing on the proposal to tear down Parking Structure 3 at 1320 4th Street
May 18, 2021
In a move that appears calculated to kill what little retail life is left in the Third Street Promenade and downtown, city officials are asking the California Coastal Commission to approve their proposal to tear down Parking Structure 3 in downtown Santa Monica. Officials wish to replace the 337-car structure with "affordable" housing for low-income tenants.
Since 1968, the parking structure has served Santa Monica and the tourists who come here. Pre-pandemic, all of the downtown parking structures regularly filled up every day with cars of people shopping in Santa Monica. The retail businesses downtown rely heavily on the parking structures that line 2nd and 4th streets surrounding the Third Street Promenade. After the year-long lockdowns and the May 31 looting and riots, the downtown area is struggling to revive. Many businesses have left and there are many empty storefronts.
But our top-down government officials, who know what we need far better than we do ourselves, have decided that downtown parking for these badly hurting businesses is not necessary. Instead, we need to zone for 6,168 affordable housing units. (This number is from the Southern California Association of Governments, who got it from the state's Department of Housing and Development). Our city officials have decided that means we must build - at public expense, obviously - affordable housing. We don't. We only have to zone for it. And building affordable housing (or any housing) where we still own badly needed parking places is the most brain-dead notion you could expect from government agents.
Making matters worse, the California Coastal Commission's staff, also composed of people who know how to run your life better than you do, have decided it's okay to remove parking from a city that, under normal conditions, labors to support the traffic that comes in to it: workers and tourists. The CCC's staff paid a consultant who told them that the loss of Parking Structure 3 would not cause cars to overflow into surrounding streets to look for parking there. Why would that happen? One can't imagine.
Nearby business owners are understandably alarmed and enraged by the city's plans to demolish any parking, let alone a structure that can accommodate over 300 cars. They started a petition on Change.org which had 1,565 signatures as of this writing. "The parking structure was paid for by Businesses in the Downtown area for use by visitors," the petition reads. "We support housing for low income and homeless, but not on the downtown area and not by removing much needed parking." Obviously, none of the people involved in the petition would ever enter elected office. They have too much common sense for the idiocy apparently required for the job.
"Retaining Garage 3 has everything to do with the comeback and future success of the Promenade, and to the property owners, businesses and Stakeholders who paid for its construction," wrote property owner and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. stakeholder John Alle in a letter to DTSM, which bizarrely supports the demolition of the parking. "This issue and its implications were never discussed with or brought before Stakeholders," Alle wrote, complaining about DTSM's official support for the demolition. "The idea of tearing down Structure 3 is a whacky idea and makes no sense." Alle promised that the decision "will be met with strong resistance and legal motions."
The passionate intent to build affordable housing on the part of both elected and paid staff members of the city government is highly suspicious. One has to assume that somebody, somewhere, who is making these decisions is going to make money off this move.