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Santa Monica's Rent Control Board to Tackle New Development

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

May 23, 2013 -- After postponing a decision last month, Santa Monica's Rent Control Board will vote Thursday on whether to allow the East Village development to go forward.

Citing concerns about affordable housing, Board members postponed their decision on whether to a grant removal permits for 99 rent-controlled trailer pads in the Village Trailer Park so that developers could break ground on a 377-unit mixed-use residential development.

The removal permit would require that developers replace the 99 trailer pads with the equivalent number of rent-controlled apartments.

Though Rent Control staff has recommended approving the permit, the Board remains hesitant.

“Does it protect affordable housing in Santa Monica?” asked Board member Todd Flora. “Is it a fair deal for the current residents of the trailer park?”

At the April 14 meeting, Flora said that he thought the Board had a responsibility to “preserve affordable housing stock” in Santa Monica, a sentiment echoed by his fellow Board members

“I think we have every right to question a project's credibility as an alternative for the current trailer park’s residents,” he said. “We really wanted more information from our own staff.”

The removal permit is the last administrative obstacle for the East Village development, which proved controversial when co-owner Marc Luzzatto and his partners announced they would close the park seven years ago.

To postpone closure, the City negotiated a deal with the owners that would keep the park open while a development agreement (DA) was negotiated.

That DA was eventually approved, only to be rescinded after two of the Council members who approved it stepped down and were replaced. The Council members who voted to rescind the DA said that they were concerned that the project did not have enough affordable housing.

Luzzatto and his partners filed a $50 million lawsuit that charged the City had reneged on its deal.

The lawsuit was dropped after a deal was struck in closed-door negotiations, bringing the number of affordable units to 41.

Tomorrow could determine if the development goes forward or, some observers have said, the Board could face a lawsuit similar to the one brought against the City earlier this year.

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