October 17 2022

At last week’s Council meeting we were shocked to learn that two developers had filed 14 applications to build thousands of new housing units in Santa Monica. These applications are for projects that greatly exceed our City's zoning heights and densities, (one is for a 15-story building) and comes just as the City Council was finalizing its revised Housing Element.

The developers claim that they can proceed because the City’s Housing Element wasn’t approved by the State last year so Santa Monica has allegedly “lost” its zoning authority.  

To say residents and council members are deeply concerned about this developer ambush and have questions that must be answered is an understatement. We need an immediate analysis of the legal options and remedies available to the City to respond to these filings, and to explore potential avenues to reject them.   

This is even more urgent because those who are pushing rapid, unsustainable development in our city are already peddling the false narrative that nothing can be done to prevent this. They're also suggesting that building this much overwhelmingly market-rate housing goes a long way to meet the State’s required affordable housing mandates. But it doesn’t – providing only 20% of these units as affordable. To meet the 6,168 affordable mandate, our City would have to approve 30,000 mainly market-rate units by 2028!  

The City needs to immediately take these steps to restore residents’ confidence in good city governance:

1. Take no further action to process any of these filed applications pending a review of potential challenges to them under all applicable laws (if they are impermissible, as SMCLC’s initial review indicates.)

2. Hire experienced outside legal counsel to conduct a review of our city’s legal rights and remedies under all applicable laws to reject these applications.

We believe outside counsel review is imperative in part because of statements made by City planning staff who have told council members as well as the press that we’re stuck with these projects even though they massively exceed what Santa Monica zoning allows and ignore relevant state law.  

SMCLC and neighborhood groups are appalled by the lack of any factual or legal analysis of what occurred and are urging Council to take this up at the next Council hearing on October 25th.  

If you agree, please write an email supporting these actions to:

City Manager, David White: david.white@santamonica.gov
City Attorney Douglas Sloan: douglas.sloan@santamonica.gov
Santa Monica City Council: council@smgov.net