The Village Trailer Park (VTP) continues to be a tenuous
issue for the Santa Monica City Council. Yet, a planned development that would
be built in place of the VTP seems to finally have enough momentum to move
forward, albeit with the support of a bare majority of council members.
Thanks to a 4 to 3 vote Tuesday evening, developer Marc
Luzzatto’s proposed East Village development, which would replace VTP with 377
apartment units, survived a second reading. The development agreement (DA) can
now move forward.
It was the second time within five months that the
proposed mixed-use development hung in the balance during a second reading.
Under city law, any ordinance or legislative act must be voted upon twice
before officially going into the books as an active decree.
When VTP was up for a second read on Tuesday night, three
council members raised concerns about the project’s density. Council members
Kevin McKeown, Tony Vazquez, and Ted Winterer all voted against the DA, with
McKeown being the most vocal of the density issue.
Specifically, McKeown brought to the attention of City
staff and his colleagues an issue that was raised by members of the community:
the planned project may not be as dense as advertised.
McKeown had a conversation with City staff, discussing
density calculations. Staff mentioned it has been common practice for the
Planning Department to use the amount of road a developer gives up control to
City Hall to determine the overall density of the project.
Based upon that project, McKeown observed, it would be
possible for a developer to build a project that may not be as dense as city
law would otherwise require. In effect, a developer would not be making any
substantive sacrifices when providing a community benefit, according to
It ultimately became a question of whether City Hall
would apply the letter of the law or a common practice when considering
McKeown also said there may be some “lack of clarity” as
to how remaining residents at VTP will be protected during construction and how
relocated residents can pursue their respective grievances.
In addition to the density calculations, Winterer also
took objections with the overall designs of the project, saying plans made the
new buildings look as if they were designed to protect residents from a
The last time Luzzatto’s DA was in front of the dais was
in December, when the second reading of the proposed project was heard moments
after four members of the current council were sworn in, including newcomers
Vazquez and Winter.
At that meeting, the council had voted 4 to 3 against the
second reading of the proposed development based upon concerns of a lack of
When the VTP came back to the council in March, Council
member Gleam Davis, who was one of the four who voted against the proposed
development in December, switched her vote to a “yes” three weeks ago. Davis
stated at the last council meeting she believed Luzzatto had satisfied the
concerns she raised three months earlier.
The same voting bloc who voted in favor of the proposes
development during first reading – Mayor Pam O’Connor, Mayor Pro Tem Terry
O’Day, Council member Bob Holbrook, and Davis – maintained their respective
“yes” votes on April 9.
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