Santa Monica Lookout
|Appeal of Santa Monica Post Office Conversion Heads to City Council||
By Jonathan Friedman
August 3, 2016 -- Several months after an unusual meeting in which the Planning Commission approved a project to convert the historic Downtown Santa Monica post office into a private business office, the City Council will hear the issue Tuesday on appeal.
Planning Commissioner and current council candidate Jennifer Kennedy filed the appeal. She had voted against the project in April (“Commission Denies, Then Approves Santa Monica Post Office Conversion,” April 25, 2016).
A controversial element of the project that had planning commissioners debating over two sessions is that owner SkyDance Media wants to construct a five-foot-high fence around the property.
SkyDance says it needs the fence because the historic post office sign will remain on the property due to an agreement with the City, and this would mean many people would try to enter the property thinking it’s still available for mail service.
Planning staff told commissioners at the April 20 hearing that they had no authority to remove the fence plan from the project because that feature was under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Commission, which had given it the go-ahead in December.
Due to the fence and other issues, the hearing nearly concluded with a 3-3 deadlock.
After a brief break, Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi said he would change his vote, and the project was approved. Kennedy and Commissioner Richard McKinnon continued to oppose.
SkyDance wants to do an adaptive reuse of the post office, including the construction of a 14,490 square-foot addition with three stories reaching a height of 32 feet.
The post office was built in 1938 and closed in 2013. Skydance purchased the property in 2014. Skydance’s chief executive officer is David Ellison, son of the world’s sixth-richest man, Larry Ellison.
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