After Beating Business Owners on a Technicality, City of Santa Monica to Demolish Parking Structure 3 on February 14
City rushes to demolish the structure to create facts on the ground, and to make money for the well connected developers
February 3, 2022
The City of Santa Monica is wasting no time to demolish Parking Structure 3. The City is rushing to demolish the structure to create facts on the ground, and to discourage the property owners who oppose its replacement by a high end homeless shelter.
The doomed structure won a reprieve in December, when Superior Court Judge Michael Beckloff granted an injunction against demolition, on grounds that CEQA had not been complied with by the City. However, two can play at the technicality game, and the City pointed out that according to the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, under which the lawsuit had been filed, the petitioner has 90 days after the initial filing to request a hearing. Lawyers for the petitioners, a group of business and property owners in Santa Monica, filed their lawsuit 22 days beyond the deadline.
"The City of Santa Monica will begin demolition of Parking Structure 3 at 1318-20 Fourth Street on Monday, February 14, 2022 to clear the site for affordable housing," said the City in a press release. "Fencing will go up on Thursday, February 10, 2022. The City Council awarded a demolition contract to AMPCO Contracting Inc. on July 13, 2021. "
"The demolition, which is expected to take approximately six months, comes on the heels of the Superior Court of California issuing a final order in the City's favor, dismissing a lawsuit put forward by the Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association. "
"The City-owned property is the future site of affordable housing to help address the regional affordable housing crisis. On January 11, 2022, the City Council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with EAH Inc. to develop the project."
"The decision to retrofit the parking garage vs demolish it was begun before my time on the council," City Council member Phil Brock told us. "While I always appreciate the need for more parking in our downtown, I realize that the sparkling new garage on 2nd and Broadway was constructed with extra capacity with an eye towards demolishing Parking Garage #3. The cost of retrofitting the existing 1965 era garage versus building new affordable housing becomes a one-sided discussion. Ultimately, downtown won't suffer but the lives of over 150 people will be enhanced by this new affordable housing project," he wrote.
One of the attorneys for the business owners, Ellia Thompson, took responsibility for the error. "In my 17 years of practice, I have never made such a mistake," she said at the hearing. She explained that she was working without a secretary for much of the pandemic. "I have struggled during Covid to stay on top of everything. I find it difficult to handle my cases... This requirement to file for a trial-setting conference, it slipped through the cracks."
Parking structure 3 is located about seven blocks from the beach, and one block from the 3rd Street Promenade, a pedestrian mall. It is located a few blocks away from a number of other parking lots, proponents of the homeless shelter point out.