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News, City Council, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Planning Commission Still Vetting Marriott, Hilton Proposals

Posted Oct. 11, 2013, 8:56 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

More than four hours of deliberation and discussion was not enough time for planning commissioners earlier this month to decide whether or not to recommend a pair of proposed hotel chains to be built in Santa Monica’s urban core.

Accordingly, the Planning Commission will resume Oct. 16 its review of proposed development agreements (DA) for a Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton.

The meeting on Oct. 2 was the second time this year that planning commissioners continued the discussion of these two DAs to another meeting.

Back in July, commissioners granted the developer and applicant OTO Development more time to address union issues, determine whether it could make any contributions to Historic Preservation and the Hospitality and Training Academy, develop local hiring and living wage provisions, and address how the proposed project would reduce water use.

A Hampton Inn and Suites would be located at 501 Colorado and would feature 143 guest rooms.

The other hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, would be at 1554 Fifth Street and include 136 rooms.

Both hotels would be six stories tall and include two subterranean levels for 75 to 100 parking spots.

In the City staff report presented to planning commissioners prior to their Oct. 2 meeting, there were 29 items listed as either an issue that needed to be addressed, an amendment to key DA language, or disagreements OTO Development had with City Hall.

Both DAs are on the Planning Commission’s Oct. 16 agenda. If OTO Development and the Planning Commission can get on the same page by the end of the meeting, it might be possible commissioners would recommend the two DAs to the City Council.

Otherwise, both the applicant and the commission will continue deliberating and discussing community benefits and key project proposals.

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Comments

Oct. 11, 2013, 4:26:57 pm

Peter Altschuler said...

No amount of goodwill money committed to job training, historic preservation, open space, or other local initiatives will ever compensate for the increase in density and traffic that is already choking Downtown Santa Monica. Unless the developers of the Marriott and Hampton hotels are planning to construct wider ramps to enter and exit the freeway on 4th Street, provide transportation to and from LAX (from which most hotel guests will arrive), give guests bicycles or Segways or scooters for getting around Downtown, and implement alternative energy and water reclamation technologies as an integral part of the construction, the negative impact on resources and access by residents to their own city center will be irreversible. As pointed out in the Downtown Specific Plan, Santa Monica is a seaside resort community with a long history of low density, low rise growth. The pressure over the last two decades and, especially, the last five years to change that to accommodate high rise housing and office space threatens the very qualities that draw people to the city, both as residents and visitors. If people want to visit Miami, they can do that in Florida and, if they're desperate for crowds, there's always Manhattan. But Santa Monica is not Manhattan-by-the-Sea. At least, it should not be allowed to be. The notion that the Expo Line will reduce traffic and provide for density without consequences is myopic. The residents in the properties built or proposed close to the rail line stops will rely on their cars for shopping, errands, ferrying schoolchildren, and visits to the doctor -- all locally. Without incentives to use public transportation (resident-only discounts), encourage supermarkets and service businesses to open locations in or next to the new properties, provide free delivery to Santa Monica residents, and the like, the new residents will be as car-dependent as virtually everyone else in Los Angeles. Without rail service to the San Fernando Valley or the South Bay, anyone hired to work in the proposed office towers will also rely on their automobiles, further exacerbating traffic problems -- if the City is blind to the long-range effects of such developments. And the perspective that all of the activity in Downtown affects only downtown ignores the gridlock on Lincoln Boulevard that has increased with each new project in Marina del Rey or on Olympic Boulevard following the completion of commercial buildings just east of the City's border. Because of all the dominoes lined up behind these proposed hotels (in addition to the proposed, even higher density hotel at Colorado and 2nd), neither project should be approved in exchange for an $800,000 to $1.2 million payoff to look the other way.

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