Development Agreements (DAs) appearing in front of Santa
Monica’s City Council might be a common occurrence, yet a DA proposing
something other than new residences or businesses is about as rare as last
week’s “Super Moon.”
Council members on Tuesday approved a DA to expand
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences to include a new three-story,
12-classroom science-learning center at 1731 20th Street in the Light
Manufacturing Studio District.
The site currently contains two buildings with five
classrooms that would be removed as part of the project resulting in seven net
During construction, three temporary modular classrooms
will be erected.
A sneak peek into the project reveals the applicant
proposed to provide 235 parking spaces, one shy of the 236 spaces required
under the City Code.
A few community benefits negotiated as part of the new
science center at Crossroads: an enhanced Transportation Demand Management
(TDM) plan; and, the school must “provide an undeveloped area 10 feet in width
along the southern property line … for the future development and public use of
the Michigan Avenue Greenway bike path.”
City staff and Crossroads also agreed to have
photovoltaic panels installed on the side of the building and for the roof to
be solar panel-ready.
Crossroads ensured it would aim to have the new building
meet LEED Gold equivalency, while the school will engage in outreach to the
Pico Neighborhood to offer potential students from priority for financial aid
and the school’s Summer Program.
As for the building itself, City staff stated it is
proposed to be three stories and 41 feet high and contain about 23,856 square
feet of classroom and support space.
A key element of the DA involves both Crossroads and
Santa Monica exchanging land easements; the easement acquired by the City would
be used to develop the Michigan Avenue Greeway bike path.
Council members were posed with two questions prior to
considering the Crossroads DA: is the building’s proposed design and sign plan
“appropriate and compatible with the neighborhood” and the Crossroads campus;
and, “whether the proposed plan and proposed community benefits are consistent
with the objective, goals, general land uses, and programs specified in the
However, the council focused its discussion on the solar
panel element of the DA. Council member Ted Winterer asked the school how soon
it would install the roof solar panels.
Winterer requested the school aim to install those
rooftop solar panels within five years.
Council member Gleam Davis was worried that requiring the
school to install rooftop solar panels within a set timeline may have the
unintended consequence of forcing Crossroads officials to decide between
allocating scarce resources to energy efficiency or funding scholarships and
other student-friendly initiatives.
A Crossroads official told Council members the school
would raise all the funds to construct the proposed building from private
On a recent visit to Crossroads, Council member Tony
Vazquez observed the campus was “deplorable” and the proposed DA needed to be
Also proposed as part of the project, according to City
staff: a two-story special projects pavilion to “house interdisciplinary
special project rooms on the ground and second floors and an outdoor gathering
space open to the sky on the third level.”
All council members voted in favor of the DA; Council
member Bob Holbrook, who recently had knee surgery, voted via phone.
The council also voted unanimously in favor of a
resolution approving the final parcel plan for 1621 Franklin Street, where a
four-unit condominium project is proposed.
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