Thursday, January 28, 2010

Santa Monicans to Developer: "We Hate Traffic!"

What it looks like now
Google Maps Street View

At a planning commission meeting last night, a developer, Hines, made a preliminary pitch for a transit oriented development that will serve a future Exposition Line stop in Santa Monica. You can read more about the Bergamot redevelopment project here. The project concept is a mix of office, housing, retail and open space near Olympic and 26th, that reaches seven stories at its highest point. If the city doesn't agree to something like that, the developer has the option to build a bigger warehouse on the site through the existing zoning.

The most striking thing wasn't hearing the developer's sophisticated sales pitch and the back and forth with the commission, it was hearing the public comments. Person after person got up and took the project to task as too dense, and too skewed towards office. Most were long time residents who longed for the bygone days when traffic flowed freely in the city. One woman was choking back tears as she spoke.

This is what dense, mixed use development is up against. The commenters didn't care about the walkability benefits, or the extra density for better transit service, or the saved habitat from avoiding more sprawl at the fringe. To them, this is about more cars on the road in Santa Monica. Something to think about.

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