Key City Infrastructure Affected by 8,895 New Units
October 21, 2021
by Alyssa Erdley
News with Attitude
October 12, 2021 - The final Environmental Impact Report for the state-ordered addition of 8,895 new housing units to Santa Monica over the next 8 years reveals significant and unavoidable impacts on air quality, historic resources, fire protection services, education, recreational facilities, water sustainability, and Vehicle Miles Traveled thresholds.
And that is only the negative effects that Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, the city's environmental consultant, couldn't help admitting to.
The admitted significant and unavoidable impacts from the Environmental Impact Report 6th Cycle 2021-2029 Housing Element Update include:
- Emissions from the continuous construction over 8 years of nearly 9,000 housing units will "substantially exceed thresholds."
- Emissions from vehicle trips associated with the residential development would exceed South Coast Air Quality Management District recommended thresholds.
- Historical resources would be damaged or destroyed.
- New fire protection facilities would be necessary to support the additional housing, and no funding exists to construct such structures.
- Increase in student enrollment would surpass existing educational facilities and no funding exists to create additional classrooms.
- Increased demand for parks and recreational facilities would require construction of more, which could have adverse physical effects on the environment.
- Increased demand for water supply will delay or inhibit the city's ability to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2023.
- The city's Vehicle Miles Traveled threshold would be exceeded.
There is room to dispute several key areas where Wood projected small or no impact.
- Energy demand. The consultant claims that green energy codes will create "less than significant" stress on the electrical system. Baloney. More residential units equals more energy demand. Period. The end. More lights, more computers, more phones, and all the other systems that require power.
- Noise. Wood claims "the operation of new residential developments would not result in a substantial permanent increase in ambient noise levels in the city." Do you believe that? Neither do I.
- Police. Supposedly the addition of some 20,000-plus additional people in Santa Monica would not exceed "city service standards." How on earth is that possible? More calls to the police would be made, more police presence would be required.
- Wastewater. A "Public Infrastructure Financing Program" will handle creating additional facilities. Do you smell new taxes?
And, finally, the item that is the least reasonable to wave off. Anyone who lives in California knows the biggest limiting factor for all development: water.
Wood admits new water facilities would need to be constructed to handle the increased demand for water (and admits current residents would have to help pay for it). But the consultant's perception of water availability is limited to the city boundaries. No weight is given the probable restriction on water sold to the city. Past years have seen water rationing during droughts. If there has not previously been enough water for the present number of residents, how can you add an additional 8,895 households to that demand?
A frequent theme of the EIR is the clash between various demands by the State of California. The order to build more housing conflicts with the state's demand to stay under certain emissions levels and so on. But hanging over the whole is the failure of the state to construct any new water projects over the past several decades. California cannot reasonably expect to add 1.34 million more households to its southern region without providing more water.