Protect Santa Monica Canyon From Overbuilding

TO OUR STATE ASSEMBLYMAN RICHARD BLOOM AND THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION:

We, residents of Santa Monica Canyon and surrounding coastal areas, and constituents of State Assembly District #50, respectfully ask you to:

PROTECT THE COASTAL SETTING OF SANTA MONICA CANYON FROM OVERBUILDING
ENFORCE THE DESIGN MITIGATIONS YOU APPROVED IN NOVEMBER 2011 AND FEBRUARY 2012 FOR CONSTRUCTION AT 160 OCEAN WAY
RESTORE THIS COMMUNITY'S CONFIDENCE IN THE FAIRNESS OF THE COASTAL REVIEW PROCESS

__________________________________________________________________________________

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

NOVEMBER 2011
The Coastal Commissioners reviewed an application to build a 4-car, 4-level house in the coastal zone of Santa Monica Canyon, which has majorpublic access routes toadjacent, heavily used public recreation areas, including Will Rogers State Beach. The Commissionersoverwhelmingly rejected the design as "incompatible with communitycharacter" because of its bulk, height, and 4th floor roof-deck structures.On the record, the applicants agreed to withdraw, and did indeed withdraw, the design. The Commissionersdirected them to use L.A.'snew anti-mansionization law (the "Baseline Hillside Ordinance," or BHO) as the design guide to achieve project consistency with theCoastal Act andcommunity compatibility. The Commissioners specifically called for a reduction in bulk, height, and roof-deckstructures.

FEBRUARY 2012
The Commissioners reviewed a second design. It failed to conform with BHO. The Coastal Commission staff, in its report, concludedthat the new design was not compatible withthe Coastal Act and community character of Santa Monica Canyon, and recommendedthat Commissioners require the applicant to follow their earlier direction to conform withBHO. However, the Commissioners approvedthe design as submitted, citing three modifications from the original design that moved in the direction of BHO:
1. a 4' step-back of the building at 3rd floor;
2. the introduction of some sloped roofs;
3. a slight reduction of structures on the roof-deck.

JULY 2012
Five months later, unbeknownst to the community, the applicants submitted a modified design to Coastal Commission staff thatcompromised or removed the key mitigationsrequired by the Coastal Commission in February 2012:
1. The 4' step-back was totally filled in, thus reverting to a project similar in design to the one rejected by the Coastal Commission
2. Obtrusive structures on the roof-deck were added and enlarged

SEPTEMBER 2013
The Santa Monica Canyon community was shocked when the building's framing was completed and the new design was revealed. Thecommunity was nevernotified of these significant design changes, nor were they preceded by public review, much less approval fromthe Coastal Commissioners. The structure as it now stands failsto provide the mitigations that the Commissioners required, and its bulkcomes close to the original design that the Commissioners categorically rejected.

NOW
This community's confidence in the fairness of the Coastal review process is shaken. Members of our community, many of themseniors, traveled all over the state - to CoastalCommission hearings in Long Beach, Oceanside, and Santa Cruz - to protect thecharacter and aesthetics of Santa Monica Canyon, consistent with the protective provisions ofthe Coastal Act. We abided by every rule,made reasonable arguments, and treated the process and all participants with respect. There is a widespread feeling of dismay andbetrayal that this public process, which was supposed to produce a compatibly designed structure for our coastal community, hasallowed changes, hidden from the public, thatrevert to an incompatible structure under the Coastal Act.

We respectfully urge the Coastal Commission to investigate how City permit staff could allow this to happen, and to enforce the designthe Coastal Commission required,including these two critical corrections:
1. restoration of the 4' step-back of the 3rd floor; and
2. removal of all roof-deck structures not shown in the drawings




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