June 22, 2020

Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) has served the City with legal objections to proceeding with plans to privatize public land at 4th and Arizona.

This Tuesday, June 23rd, the City Council will discuss whether to move forward with a behemoth, controversial, commercial project, referred to as “The Plaza.” It takes up the entire block between 4th and 5th Streets and Arizona and is the last remaining large parcel of undeveloped public land in our downtown.

SMCLC has hired the prominent law firm Strumwasser and Woocher to compel the City to comply with a state law known as the Surplus Land Act. Under this act, before negotiating and disposing of public land for commercial uses, the City must notify interested parties to see if this land can be acquired for use as a park or for affordable housing.

Instead of following the Act, the City allowed the developer to pitch its own facts and arguments to the state agency that reviews compliance in a one-sided attempt to sidestep the law. The arguments made fundamentally misrepresent the law regarding contracts between cities and developers. There is no valid agreement that exempts the City from complying with the Act.

This Tuesday we will tell the Council that it cannot legally go forward with this project until the City fulfills this important requirement that prioritizes public land and affordable housing over commercial uses. Here is SMCLC’s legal letter to the City Council: http://smclc.net/PDF/LettertoCityCouncil062220.pdf

The public has been asking for this land to be used for a park to provide Santa Monicans with much needed open space. The law that’s being skirted here provides a real opportunity to redirect the City’s focus to public recreational use. Public land should have a public use that the public wants.

We believe as the City prioritizes a massive increase in housing density, it must also prioritize increasing public recreational space. Santa Monicans are entitled to the same level of open space as is commonly found in all great cities.

Please write the City Council before Tuesday at 2:00pm so that your comments will be posted online and included in the public record at: Councilmtgitems@smgov.net. Tell them:

1. You do not accept using public land for a huge, private commercial project that does not benefit the community.

2. What residents want, and the Council directed be studied in the Environmental Impact Report, is a project that preserves about 80% of the land as open space with 20% for other uses (Ron Goldman's SMa.r.t. proposal) which Council directed be studied in the EIR but was NOT studied as it should have been.

3. This project will add 5,000 new car trips a day to our already congested downtown, which will be intolerable.

Thank you for your support.