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WSC Submits Plans for First Builder's Remedy Project

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By Jorge Casuso

December 13, 2022 -- WSC last week submitted its first full proposal for one of the 15 projects it rushed into Santa Monica's planning pipeline under the "builder's remedy" provision in State Housing law.

The detailed project plans filed Thursday are for a 75-unit, 10-story high-rise apartment building at 1238 7th Street -- one of 16 builder's remedy projects for which preliminary proposals were submitted.

The projects -- which total 4,562 units, of which 941 are affordable -- can bypass the City's zoning code and general plan and must be automatically given administrative approval as long as they don't present a clear danger to public health or safety.

WSC, and its affiliate NMS, rushed in 15 proposals in the two weeks before State officials gave final approval to the City's Housing Element on October 14, closing the filing window ("Housing Plan Delays Led to Loss of Local Control," October 14, 2022).

Developers have six months after filing a preliminary proposal to submit their full plans. Unlike the preliminary plans -- which are rough and conceptual -- the final application must include detailed plans, renderings and designs.

Attorney Dave Rand, who represents WSC, said the first project submitted by the housing developer was one of the least complex.

"It's one of the smaller ones, making it easier to design," Rand said. "The rest are of different levels of complexity."

WSC and NMS plan to submit plans for 12 of the projects that met the initial deadline after putting three of the builder's remedy properties for sale last month ("Santa Monica Developer Puts 3 'Builder's Remedy' Properties for Sale," November 18, 2022).

While the City tells developers "what needs to happen to come into full code compliance," Rand said, the builder's remedy "seriously constrains the City's ability to turn down a project or try to reduce it's density.

"There are no (local) restraints," he said.

Projects, however, are still subject to the strict standards set by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Rand said.

And while builder's remedy projects are given administrative approval, they must still go before the Planning Commission and can be appealed to the City Council.

WSC expects to submit final plans for the 12 builder's remedy projects it plans to build by the April deadlines, Rand said.

"There are going to be a series of filings through the first few months of the year," he said.

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