Homeowners association sues City and Fairmont Miramar over hotel redevelopment approval

After 10 years of planning, city council gave the green light to the Fairmont Miramar redevelopment proposal on September 30, but controversy within the community continues as on December 7 the Santa Monica Bay Towers Homeowners Association filed a complaint contesting the approval.

SMBT alleges that the redevelopment project violates the Coastal Land Use Plan (LUP) and the Downtown Community Plan (DCP). SMBT further accuses that by approving the project, city officials violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

“Our pursuit is not to say ‘no’ to all redevelopment activity on the Fairmont Miramar property,” said Kay Ward, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SMBT. “It’s about demanding that the developer of the Miramar hotel and condo obey the law, just like other developers in the city must. “

SMBT, which represents the owners of the 91 condominiums located next to the Miramar in Bay Towers, has filed a lawsuit against Ocean Avenue LLC, the owner of the Fairmont Miramar, and city council.

“We are disappointed that following a comprehensive public process of more than 10 years, a small number of selfish individuals seek to delay a project that will bring much-needed income, jobs and affordable housing to this city, because the decision has not been made. their favor, ”said Dustin Peterson, representative of the Miramar Hotel. “The proposed project is very much in line with the General City Plan and the Downtown Community Plan, both of which were adopted after many years of public participation.

The half-billion-dollar 502 1,570 square foot redevelopment plan would renovate the century-old hotel and create 312 rooms, 60 luxury condos and 18,000 square feet of retail space. The lawsuit aims to challenge the approval of the project, but SMBT’s board of directors has said in a letter to its members that it is open to negotiating a settlement with the developer of Miramar to change the plan.

The current plan would replace the Ocean Tower and existing bungalows with a 130-foot building and an 80-foot building. SMBT alleges that although these heights were permitted under an amendment passed to LUP by city council on September 29, they are not legally valid because the amendment has not been certified by the California Coastal Commission.

The plan also reserved land for a 42-unit affordable housing complex across the street from the hotel on 2nd Street. SMBT alleges this violates the DCP, which prioritizes affordable housing, as the units would be located outside the resort and residents would not have access to Miramar. Approvals.

SMBT further claims that city council members violated CEQA when they certified Miramar’s environmental impact report as part of the approval process.

The City of Santa Monica denies SMBT’s allegations and says city council and the planning commission followed all proper procedures when voting on the project. The planning committee voted 6-1 in favor of approval and city council voted 4-2 in favor, but three of the supporting council members lost their seats in the November election.

“The redevelopment plan for the Miramar hotel site was the subject of a vast public process that lasted several years. The lawsuit challenges this process. We do not believe the allegations in the trial are valid and we will defend ourselves against them in the ongoing litigation, ”said city spokeswoman Constance Farrell.

The SMBT is acting on behalf of the Bay Towers condominium owners, but the chairman of the board said the lawsuit will support a much larger group of community members.

“This will greatly benefit not only SMBT, but also many other residents of California Avenue and Ocean Avenue, as well as countless residents and office workers in our downtown area, who will bear the brunt of the demolition and construction noise pollution, air pollution, traffic jams and traffic hazards that this oversized project design places on the community. Millions of annual visitors to the city who come to enjoy Palisades Park and the State Beach below will also benefit from compliance with the planning and environmental laws that our lawsuit seeks to uphold, ”Ward said.

Miramar’s legal advisor said SMBT’s claims are unfounded and pointed out that the project’s 7,000-plus-page environmental impact report was independently, thoughtfully and thoroughly analyzed before obtaining approval. from the city.

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