By Gary Walker
It was the late soul singer Wilson Pickett’s kind of night, as the Santa Monica City Council waited until well after the midnight hour to approve the final Bergamot Area Plan Sept. 11.
Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” was a 1966 hit.
The Bergamot Plan ostensibly fine-tunes the vision for this new neighborhood mandated in the city’s 2010 Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and establishes policies, standards and guidelines applicable to projects that develop, remodel or adaptively reuse existing buildings, according to a staff report.
Under the approved plan, 10 new streets will be created, along with 15 bicycle and pedestrian paths.
Councilman Kevin McKeown was the lone no vote.
“Without sufficient affordable housing, the Bergamot Area Plan cannot deliver on either its premise or its promise. The premise was sustainability, and the promise was reduced traffic. We know that sprawling land use, where jobs and housing are not in proximity, is not sustainable,” McKeown asserted. “We cannot deliver on the promise of reduced traffic if we continue to create jobs where workers cannot afford to live near their employment, but must commute and pollute.”
The councilman said he hoped that there would have been more of a component in the plan that would have required more affordable housing.
“An economic study delivered to our Planning Commission by city staff late last year showed that the wages anticipated for Bergamot Area Plan jobs required significant provision of below-market rents, which Santa Monica does to some extent through inclusionary zoning,” he explained. “For Bergamot, the figures showed we should have required deeper affordability with a higher number of deed-restricted housing units.
“The council balked, so I walked.”
The area plan involves transitioning 142.5 acres on land used in the past for industrial uses into a transit-oriented neighborhood with a combination of pedestrian-oriented landscape and mixed-use housing, centered around the future Bergamot Exposition Light Rail Station.
The Hines Co. is proposing a mixed-use project at the site of the former Papermate plant near the light rail station.
McKeown said it was difficult to vote against the agenda item because there are many features of it that he likes, but he ultimately could not vote for it based on other factors.
“Being the sole no vote on a vision I share in principle was painful, but affordable housing, parks and traffic are what residents indicated they care about, and those issues were not satisfactorily resolved,” he said.
Santa Monica: City Council greenlights Bergamot Area Plan after six-hour debate
By Gary Walker