|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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Something's Not Right
By John C. Smith
Something’s not right. And two minutes from now you’re going to know exactly what it is and what you can do about it.
First the facts. . .
The Santa Monica City Council is set to vote THIS Tuesday, September 29th on the super-sized Miramar Hotel, owned by Michael S. Dell, whom Forbes says is the 39th-richest person in the world, worth $35 billion.
The hotel would essentially DOUBLE in SIZE (Imagine the Santa Monica Place Mall on a single block) and much of that 130-foot tall hulk would be the 60 luxury condos ($5-9 million each) Dell would put on top of it and sell to pay for the project.
In exchange, the City would get 42 units of affordable housing across the street and $5-7 million more a year in hotel tax revenue (If the Miramar’s rosy, unproven and pre-pandemic estimates are to be believed).
In just the past two weeks, it’s been revealed that the husband of City Council member Gleam Davis has worked for Dell for EIGHT years. That’s almost the same amount of time the Miramar has been trying to get a project approved by the City Council.
Why has this not been made public before? How many other Council members knew?
Santa Monica’s Transparency Project rightly points out it’s a clear conflict of interest and Davis should recuse herself from voting. No excuses.
The Transparency Project’s Report on recent campaign disclosure statements also shows four members of the Miramar’s legal team and two family members have donated the maximum $340 to the campaign of Gleam Davis.
The same Transparency Report shows four members of the Miramar legal team donated the maximum $340 to the campaign of Council member Terry O’Day.
The same Miramar legal team has donated more than $12,000 dollars to the PAC, “Santa Monica Forward”, which supports the project.
As my good friend and President of “Friends of Sunset Park, Zina Josephs wrote recently, the Lowes Hotel was built without condos, as was Le Merigot, Shutters, the Shore and the Proper. The developer of the proposed Gehry-designed hotel has offered to ditch its condos.
Yet, somehow a man worth $35 Billion can’t afford to super-size his own hotel and claims the deal “won’t pencil out” without condos.
Keep in mind, the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the project has still not sufficiently addressed the very real concern that the super-sizing of this hotel and the years and years of construction, thousands of rumbling trucks, tons and tons of cement and steel will impact the fragile bluffs of Pacific Palisades Park just 60-75 yards away.
Now -- one question: How many times have you heard the Mayor or other Council members say something like this: “All of us keep saying we need to demand more from developers who want to build here and every time we fail to do it.”
Now here’s what SHOULD happen. . .
The Council should:
Ask Council member Davis to recuse herself from voting.
Ask the City Attorney if Davis and O’Day should both recuse themselves from voting since both are receiving donations from lawyers supporting the project.
Ask the City Attorney if ANY Councilmember receiving money from the PAC, ‘Santa Monica Forward’ should recuse themselves from voting because Forward supports the project.
Either cut the condos completely to down-size this huge project, or demand at least TWO affordable units of housing for EACH luxury condo.
Use MY pencil: 60 luxury condos x $7 million = $420 million profit for Dell. 120 affordable units x $500,000 = Just $60 million cost TO Dell.
Keep the main entrance where it is now, on Wilshire Boulevard to minimize the traffic impacts on the neighborhood.
Ascertain for certain the geologic risks this project poses to the fragile Palisade Park bluffs and the California Incline just across the street.
Now what can YOU do?
Write and call the Council now and pack that video-meeting and give the Council your two minutes worth.
Tell them you won’t vote for any member who votes to approve this project AS IS, then share this with every Santa Monica voter you know.
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