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Appeal of City Hall Addition Approval Goes to Santa Monica Council  

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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

January 19, 2017 -- The Santa Monica City Council will vote on something Tuesday that is close to home -- a 50,000-square-foot addition to City Hall.

The addition was approved by the Planning Commission in November, although not too enthusiastically (“Commission Approves Santa Monica City Hall Addition, but with Dissenters,” November 22, 2016).

That decision was appealed by resident David Garden, who although he does not say he is representing a group uses the word “we” throughout the appeal statement.

redering of proposed addition to city hall
Proposed City Services Building (Rendering courtesy of Frederick Fisher Partners Architect)

Among Garden’s objections are that the addition is too massive in an area that he says cannot accommodate it, that the building’s use of so-called composting toilets could create a health hazard, that it poses various environmental issues and that the project is too expensive

City staff responded to Garden’s various complaints in a report to the council, and perhaps not surprisingly disagrees with all of them.

The commission’s approval of the project in November was narrow with four voting in favor, two opposed and one abstaining.

Commissioner Nina Fresco, like Garden, opposed what she considered to be a massive addition and did not think it respected City Hall’s status as a historic structure.

“I feel this building is not going to set a great example for how we want to do this," said Fresco in November. "We want buildings that accommodate solar in a way that's sensitive to our environment and our landscapes and our historic landmarks."

The proposed structure has been described by staff as "rectangular in shape [and] designed in a modern/contemporary style consisting of glass facades on all four sides of the building." A nearly 7,000-square-foot interior courtyard is planned.

The project's estimated cost is $85 million, and City officials say it is needed to end the policy of renting space to house some staff.

They say that policy is an unnecessary expense and forces people needing municipal services or to meet with officials to go to various locations.

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