Gelsonís Project Update: Our Meeting with the Developer

Recently, representatives from SMCLC along with residents from Ocean Park and Sunset Park neighborhoods met with Cypress Equity, the developer behind the massive 521-unit project at Lincoln and Ocean Park Blvds.

The tone of the meeting was friendly and professional. Cypress representatives listened courteously as we outlined the myriad issues residents have with their project: itís too big and out-of-scale with the existing neighborhood; it doesnít have enough affordable housing; it wasnít required to do a traffic study; it will have almost no units for families, and is mostly comprised of small, one-bedroom apartments -- more like dorms than long-term housing.

We also expressed how reducing their plans could turn a bad project into a good one, and since Cypress has other projects slated for Santa Monica some compromise with residents might serve their long-term interests. Wouldn't being a company that works with a community be a better business model than one that ignores residents' meaningful concerns?

Cypress didnít disagree or pushback on any of our points.

After we finished our presentation, we were told that their investor will back out if the number of units is scaled back, so there is nothing they can do. They were unwilling to reduce their project by even one unit.

They also pointed out that the State Legislature has passed laws largely overriding local control over zoning, so they are within their rights to build without meaningful City or resident input. They expressed that theyíre only doing what the legislature intended developers to do, and if they didnít do it, someone else would.†

As our lawyer later told us, the California Legislature has been taken over by real estate interests and has gutted local City planning.

We will continue to look for leverage residents can use to have input into major development decisions that affect our lives. Certainly, a state-wide initiative for the 2026 ballot, sponsored by Livable California, could help restore local control and will be an important battle. In the meantime, we will always be exploring ways stakeholders can push back against corporate power and greed at the expense of local communities.†Stay tuned.