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Demolition of Parking Structure 3 to Start This Month

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

February 2, 2022 -- The City will begin tearing down Parking Structure 3 Downtown on Valentine's Day to clear the way for an affordable housing project targeting the homeless, City officials announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes after a Superior Court judge this week made final a tentative ruling Friday dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association (SMBOA).

Next Thursday, fencing will go up around the site at 1318-20 Fourth Street, followed on Monday by the start of demolition, which is expected to take approximately six months, City officials said.

The final go-ahead comes more than 12 years after the City decided to tear down the structure -- which was built in 1966 and needs extensive retrofitting -- and replace it with a commercial use.

But in 2011, two years after beginning negotiations with two separate cinema operators, the plan to build a state-of -of-the art movie complex died and the City eventually earmarked the property for affordable housing.

In 2019, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued to develop affordable housing on the site, and last month, the City Council voted to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with EAH, Inc. to build housing targeted for homeless individuals on the City owned parcel.

The developer was selected based "on the team’s depth of experience in the areas of permanent supportive housing, larger developments, supportive services, and property management," City officials said.

“Our region suffers from a dearth of affordable housing," Mayor Sue Himmelrich said after the vote, "and we in Santa Monica are committed to improving the crisis and getting people into housing that can be the foundation for stability.”

Two days after the Council vote, LA County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L Beckloff temporarily halted the structure's immanent demolition when he granted the SMBOA's request for a preliminary injunction ("Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting Parking Structure Demolition," January 13, 2022).

The property owners' lawsuit contended that the Downtown area cannot afford to lose the 337 spaces in the garage, which City officials note were replaced when Parking Structure 6 was rebuilt.

In Friday's tentative ruling, Beckloff granted the City's motion to dismiss the case based on a technicality ("Judge Issues Tentative Ruling Tossing Parking Structure Lawsuit," January 28, 2022).

Beckloff ruled that one of the plaintiff's attorneys has missed the deadline to request a hearing within 90 days of filing the case and rejected the attorney's excuse for the late filing.

"The mere recital of mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect is not sufficient to warrant relief," the judge wrote.

In his tentative ruling, Beckloff wrote that "the preliminary injunction is no longer in effect," paving the way for demolition to begin when the ruling was finalized.

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