Two “Builder’s Remedy” Projects Are Moving in the City’s Permit Process

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Between the fall of 2022 and May of last year, there was constant chatter about the “builder’s remedy” and the sixteen projects that were submitted to the city during a brief time when the state suspended the city’s zoning code. In May, the council approved a deal with WS Properties to pull thirteen of those projects from the city’s pipeline, 10 of which could be resubmitted and discussion of the builder’s remedy became relatively quiet.

Expect things to get louder, because in the last couple of weeks, two builder’s remedy projects have been moving through the city’s processes. One is part of the three that remain from the original applications. The other is a WS Properties application that is no-longer a pure builder’s remedy project.

The first of those properties will be located at 1435 5th Street (located between Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard) and will be n eighteen-story mixed-use building of 422 units. Because it was submitted during the builder’s remedy window, there is little the city can do to substantially change the project even if it so desires as long as the development team follows state laws. You can read the initial builder’s remedy application for the project here.

The project is mixed-use, meaning there will be restaurants and shops at the ground floor level and 292 car parking spaces in a subterranean garage.

A hearing was held on the project on Zoom on April 8 featuring members of the development team: Zach Kadden of Madison Realty Capital), Jesse Ottinger of Ottinger Architects and land use attorney Dave Rand. Public comment was allowed, and was mostly positive with only one commenter speaking against the project.

The second project, known as either 3030 Nebraska Avenue or 3000 Nebraska Avenue, was part of a legal settlement between the city and WS Properties, and as such it will comply with local zoning ordinances although it can still receive bonuses from the state for affordable housing. The project was the largest of the builder’s remedy projects in the city and even with the settlement could bring up to 1478 new housing units to the city, down from over 1,600 submitted with the builder’s remedy application.

For more coverage and an explanation of the settlement reached between WS Properties and the city, read these three articles from last May.

A slide from the city council meeting where the settlement with WS Properties was agreed upon.

The current details of the project aren’t public yet. As first reported by Joe Cohen on Twitter/X, the development team recently filed a preliminary application for a by-right density bonus project signaling they are ready to move forward. The agreement with the city requires that at least 15% of the units be deed-restricted affordable housing unless NMS decides to build a 100% affordable housing development elsewhere. 

The permit information is not yet available at the city’s website at the time of publishing.

Last year at this time, the city had a number of outstanding lawsuits against WS Properties, including ones against the thirteen applications it had submitted before the builder’s remedy window slammed shut. The city agreed to settle these lawsuits in exchange for WS Properties withdrawing the builder’s remedy projects and resubmitting them following the guidelines in the city’s zoning codes. WS properties also agreed to not submit three of the original thirteen projects.

In addition, the city made some major concessions.

  • WS can now pool the 15 percent inclusionary affordable units required for market-rate projects into a single 100 percent affordable housing project,
  • WS will receive a density bonus waivers and concessions that allow for more market rate units as though the affordable units were provided on-site,
  • WS will be allowed to build more car parking in the Downtown area. The current community plan calls for .5 spaces per unit. It will be doubled for WS.
  • To pave the way for the ministerial process, the City Council has the option to adopt an ordinance that would give WS additional local incentives.

As the project at 3030 Nebraska is the first of its kind in Santa Monica, we don’t know how the process will play out in real time.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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