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Most Santa Monica Development Agreements Compliant, Annual Report Says  

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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

March 6, 2017 -- Nearly all Santa Monica developers are meeting their end of the bargain on agreements with the City, according to an annual review submitted to the City Council.

City staff reviewed all 32 development agreements in Santa Monica, including 20 for completed projects, six for those under construction and six for which construction has not begun.

Of the 20 agreements involving completed projects, just one is not compliant, according to staff.

The outcast is the Agensys drug company's property at 1800 Stewart Street, where staff says the company has not met its promise to reduce the number of daily vehicle trips.

The Agensys project was approved in 2010, but compliance with an appropriate amount of vehicle trip reduction has been an ongoing issue (“Council Approves Agensys Deal, Mayor Objects,” September 20, 2010).

City officials even considered litigation two years ago (“Santa Monica Council Ponders Options to Deal with Non-Compliant Developer,” January 30, 2015).

“While discussions with Agensys regarding compliance with its [average vehicle ridership] requirements have occurred periodically since 2014, Agensys has not made a consistent and good faith commitment to develop a comprehensive [transportation demand management] program that includes implementation of the City staff recommended program enhancements designed to help achieve [compliance],” Planning Director David Martin wrote in the report to the council.

Agensys must provide further information to the City by April 17 that it is on the path to compliance.

If the company fails to meet the deadline, Martin recommends the City begin a “default procedure,” and the council could approve an action that would allow Santa Monica “to seek other remedies at law, in accordance with the agreement.”

Development agreements are deals made between the City and project owners that grant the applicant variances and/or other perks beyond what is allowed by municipal laws.

In exchange, the developer must provide what are called public benefits.

City staff has been reviewing development agreements on an annual basis for several years after it was revealed several of them at one of time were not compliant.

This year’s report will be presented to the council on Tuesday.

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