Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Its Time to Make Good Trouble Over Outsized Gelson's Project, Says Neighborhood Group

1/3 of new apartments in Santa Monica remain empty


I am writing to ask you to show up and use your voices and simple presence to "make good trouble" tomorrow night, Monday, Feb. 4th, regarding the oversized Gelson's development at the Architectural Review Board meeting at City Hall at 7 pm. Alternatively you could WRITE A LETTER to the ARB to be received by 12 pm tomorrow, the 4th, pleading, yelling, singing out that residents’ concerns must be respected. What we want is good for future tenants at Gelson's! Please note: SMCLC and Friends of Sunset Park and S.M.a.r.t. have made many important and wise points on Gelson's and I so hope you’ll read their thoughts.

LET'S HUMANIZE!: All the SM neighborhood organizations are united (except one) in wanting to humanize this absurdly gargantuan development. We are simply asking for it to be smaller, to provide actual green space, trees, a place for kids to play, more 2 and 3 bedroom units so families can move in. More affordable units.

THE BIG LIE: Right now, 1/3 of new developments in SM remain empty. I believe there are around 4,000 empty apartments available and the landlords/managers are not lowering the rents. Though a councilperson told me a few days ago that the Catherine was full, there are currently 39 apartments listed as available. We are showing up tomorrow night and writing letters to say SM Gov must listen to the voices of residents! We are showing up to say we are paying close attention. We are showing up to say that we believe passionately in building affordable housing, for teachers, health care workers, working class, middle class residents, but that building 521 luxury units with less than 10 percent affordable units will not accomplish that.

AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY: Let’s make the development better, raise the bar, with fresh air and sunlight and ocean breezes. And more affordable units. And a place for kids to play. Let’s respect the health and welfare of the neighborhood. Think of it: Adding 1000 new cars every day at the second most deadly intersection in the city, additional gridlock, air currently rated at F, the elimination of all the services we depend on at the Gelson’s development, the terrible loss of those jobs, decimation of the mom and pop shops that serve our amazing community.

Yes, there was an opportunity to build something spectacular here. A community center, gardens. Architecture that reflected the slope of the hill, starting low, getting higher.

Instead of a basically massively dense hulking monolith that feels more like a project or prison, built to keep residents in. Let’s tell the developers they must make sure the businesses open out to the community. Sunset Park is a lovely place to live. Let these new tenants be a part of our community. Don’t wall them off! Let them enjoy the essential mom and pop businesses we do.

PLEASE WRITE OR SHOW UP: We really feel that community support, residents showing up, or writing, to show that we can’t simply be ignored is so very important. We need the developers and ARB to know that we are paying attention. We need to say that building market rate apartments that remain 1/3 empty is not solving any problems. We need to hold the elected officials and boards accountable. We need to bear witness to, and document the greed agenda. Let’s shine a light on the process and figure out how the heck we got here.

.The Gelson’s teardown enriches the developers, we want to also enrich the tenants. We need to show up to say that our voices matter, that we are not going down in silence. Come join us! Let’s make Gelson’s a place where human beings might actually want to live! Please send letters or show up! Thanks.A letter to the ARB needs to be received no later than noon tomorrow. Here's the info. Thank you.

Gelson’s Teardown Project update: The project will be discussed by the Architectural Review Board on Monday, March 4, at 7 PM in the City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, City Hall, during agenda item 6-A -- you’d like to contact the Board members, send an email to before noon on March 4, and include “ARB 4-4-24 agenda item 6-A – Gelson’s” in the subject line.The Architectural Review Board is responsible for:• Establishing procedures and provide to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, and cultural importance• Assure that buildings, structures, signs or other developments contribute to the preservation of Santa Monica's reputation as a place of beauty, spaciousness and quality• Prevent the development of structures or uses likely to have a depreciating effect on the local environment or surrounding area• Eliminate conditions, structures, signs or uses which by reason of their effect tend to degrade the health, safety or general welfare of the community• Provide a continuing source of programs and means of improving the City's overall appearance• Final approval of the Board must be obtained by the applicant prior to issuance of a building permit.

Email before noon on March 4

Send email to

Include ARB 4-4-24 Agenda Item 6-A

Gelsons in Subject Line


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