We were promised open space. So why is the City of Santa Monica studying high density housing?
Dear Northeast Neighbors and friends: Last night sparks flew as the City Council discussed the proposal of internationally renowned public park design firm Sasaki Associates to design a Great Park at Santa Monica Airport.
City Staff presented and recommended a six-point Action plan for the agreement with Sasaki. Councilmember de la Torre was absent, but a discussion and vote ensued.
Sasaki made an impressive presentation of its past projects converting airports to parks. Then Gleam Davis made a motion to alter point #3 in the Action plan proposed for Sasaki. It calls for the City to "Provide direction and approve the scope of services for the Sasaki contract related to the RFP#SP2641, including the community outreach work."
Davis wanted a language change so that "other options (than a park) could be discussed and presented."
Davis: "You say a Great Park. What do you mean? ... There are 200 acres at the airport. Some people say "park, park, nothing but a park. If community members say we want some housing, what do you say?
Staff: "227 acres. Measure LC says the idea of a park is dominant inside the fence line. People will say all kinds of things but we have to say this is in line with Measure LC."
Davis: "We are talking about the process, not the outcome ... When we have public process, we have the expectation that people will be listened to. What if people say "We want housing." What will you say? What if everyone in a room wants housing?"
Staff: "The trigger is the ballot measure LC. We are intending to close the airport and turn it into a park. If we do something outside LC we have to go back to the ballot. That's a real concern... Park is defined in the Municipal Code. It allows for ancillary amenities for a park .. bathrooms, community centers."
Caroline Torosis: "If we are to fund this it can't be just Santa Monica... It can't be just the same voices."
Christine Parra: "I am concerned about the influence of housing advocates – a strong special interest group here – that will skew how many people want housing here. They have strong special interest groups."
Lana Negrete: "People will talk about what they want to talk about. But we are talking about outdoor space. That's why we are having a discussion of all of what the community wants."
Mayor Brock brought the discussion to a focal point: "Our mandate is for a park. It might include a great outdoor gathering space. It could have daycare and senior facilities. We will have to figure out how to pay for it. We have a responsibility to honor Measure LC."
It was pointed out that the Municipal Code actually defines what a park is.
Negrete then proposed a substitute motion to restore the original language of #3 in the 6-point City staff Action plan. A vote was taken on Negrete's motion and there was unanimous support – including from Gleam Davis – to move ahead with all 6 Points of the Agreement as drafted.
Battle lines remain clearly drawn, but the plan to convert the Santa Monica airport into a Great Park has moved another step forward – for now.
Chair, Northeast Neighbors