Santa Monica Lookout
|Second Santa Monica Downtown Plan Meeting Tackles Preservation and Change||
By Lookout Staff
August 9, 2016 – The City of Santa Monica’s second attempt to reconcile with opponents of the proposed Downtown Community Plan gets underway Saturday with a workshop that focuses on preservation and change.
The event -- which will be held at the historic Santa Monica Bay Women's Club, 1210 4th Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- will "dive into how we maintain Downtown Santa Monica’s unique character and options for the scale of new buildings, types of uses, and how these contribute to the Downtown neighborhood," officials said.
Attendees and City officials “will roll up our sleeves and discuss the importance of conserving character Downtown, as well as its sense of history,” officials said.
The workshop features three speakers with roots in Los Angeles whose expertise includes “adaptive reuse” of old buildings, affordable and market-rate housing and the “challenges of creating new projects that fit into their existing environments,” the City’s meeting notice said.
Speaking will be:
· Hamid Behdad, known as Los Angeles City’s “czar” of adaptive reuse projects, including his development of “Icon on Wilshire,” a 376-unit, luxury mixed-use development in downtown Los Angeles.
· Robin Hughes, head of Adobe Communities, the “premier” provider of affordable housing in L.A. and elsewhere who over the last 14 years created more than 1,400 new affordable homes. She is a former member of the L.A.’s planning commission.
· Dan Rosenfeld, a real estate investor and previous Director of Real Estate for the State of California and City of Los Angeles. He was a founding member of Urban Partners, LLC, a developer of urban infill, mixed-use and transit-oriented real estate.
Saturday’s workshop is the second public meeting since City Manager Rick Cole imposed a cooling-down period for public reaction to the Downtown Plan at the end March. In doing so, he delayed until Spring 2017 a council vote originally set for this summer ("Vote on Downtown Santa Monica Plan Delayed Yet Again," March 31, 2016).
Cole, who like Saturday’s speakers has deep professional roots in Los Angeles, has said he hopes consensus on the plan will be reached before it heads to a City Council vote.
Critics, however, believe the City is mostly trying to wear them out -- as well as avoid a council vote until after the November 8 elections.
Four incumbents are running for re-election -- Ted Winterer, Gleam Davis, Tony Vazquez and Terry O’Day. Among the challengers is Armen Melkonians, the founder of the slow-growth group Residocracy and a vocal opponent of the plan, which he says allows too much development.
Melkonians is co-author of a November 8 ballot initiative that potentially halts most developments of more than 32 feet -- which for downtown, is most development on the horizon.
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