SANTA MONICA—The California Coastal Commission issued its approval last week for the development of two public projects that will expand the Santa Monica Civic Center.
The city of Santa Monica will construct the Civic Center projects – a $75 million expansion to City Hall and a three-building childcare facility – over the next decade.
The Commission ruled on October 12, during a session in Chula Vista that the projects would not impede public access to the beach, a concern expressed by multiple residents who assert that the finalized facilities will severely limit that amount of parking available at the Civic Center. The opposition to the projects contend that planning has been piecemeal and public notification of the developments’ progress has been inconsistent.
In June 2017, the Santa Monica City Council approved the construction of a sports field near the Civic Center. Proponents of the sports field noted that if the Civic Center expansion projects move forward, they would impact necessary space and parking away from the field.
“Let’s just say it’s not a favored project of the City Council,” said Maryanne LaGuardia of the Santa Monica Parks and Recreation Task Force, a private advocacy group representing one of the primary challengers to the development of the Civic Center expansions.
Despite the Coastal Commission’s official view, LaGuardia believes that any action by the city to remove any more critical parking spaces from the Civic Center is logically incomprehensible. “Taking out 300 spaces is mind-boggling,” said LaGuardia. “It’s part of the city’s war against private automobiles.”