Beauty scale

Gelson’s project continues to face resistance

Neighbors may be angry about the new Lincoln Center project that will replace the Gelson grocery store in Ocean Park, but complaints about its size and appearance are unlikely to sink the large-scale residential project.

Property owners SanMon Inc., a subsidiary of Balboa Retail Partners, are envisioning a high-density residential development on the site near the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Ocean Park, comprising 521 units in 10 structures up to five stories high. The development – ​​originally shown at around 875,000 square feet when plans were unveiled earlier this year – will replace a Gelson’s grocery store and surface parking lot. It is also designed to include 36,000 square feet of retail (including a grocery store) and 53 ultra-low-income residential units, allowing developers to exceed city-imposed density limits as part of a state density bonus.

Dozens of nearby residents appeared in a Zoom hearing in February to voice strong opposition to the plans, officially known as the Lincoln Center Project. Now, months later, many are once again pressuring the city to try to curtail or derail development.

The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) resident group recently sent out an email rallying their supporters, stating, “There is considerable community interest and concern about the size and location of this project. More than 2,000 residents have supported a petition to oppose the current plan.

The online version of the petition, with around 250 signatures at press time, lays out four points of contention: the project is too big, too tall, suppresses local retail and will drive traffic to the area.

“This project is too big for this neighborhood and this place,” wrote one person who signed the petition. “There hasn’t been a traffic study, but anyone who drives Lincoln can attest to the traffic nightmare this building is going to cause.”

In its email, SMCLC alleges that the city “rejected” the developers’ plans before they “deemed them ‘retroactively complete’.”

According to City of Santa Monica spokeswoman Constance Farrell, the developers are working with city staff to ensure the project complies with all applicable local rules.

“The project is being reviewed at the administrative level through an entitlement process that only requires the project to comply with city regulations and significantly limits the ways the city can modify the project,” Farrell described in an email to the Daily. Press. “It also means that there are no public hearings like the Planning Commission or the City Council. However, the Architectural Review Board will conduct a design review after project approval. »

The project has not yet been officially approved, Farrell continued, but developers are working with city staff to ensure the project meets state and local boundaries that will consider it a rights project — meaning that it will not be submitted to the city for the approval of the council or the planning commission. If the proponents submit final plans that exceed the limits, it would push the project into a longer public review process.

“The City is required to approve the project if it complies with all City regulations. However, if the applicant chooses to request additional changes (that go beyond what is permitted by state density premium law), these requests may have to go through a hearing process. public,” Farrell described. “Staff have already identified areas where the project does not comply with city regulations and the applicant is in the process of revising its plans to address these comments and bring the project plans into compliance.”

If and when the Lincoln Center project receives planning approval, it will go before a public hearing at the Architectural Review Board, charged (in part) with: “Ensuring that buildings, structures, signs, or other developments contribute to the preservation of Santa Monica’s reputation as a place of beauty, space and quality,” according to its formal description.

SMCLC wrote in its email that supporters should contact council members, the director of planning and the city manager to express their disapproval of the project, but Farrell wrote that the best opportunity for community feedback would be to contact the planner assigned to the project.

“The public can direct their comments to the planner working on the project, but it’s important to note the limitations given administrative-level approval,” Farrell said.

The scheduler is Grace Page at [email protected]

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