The Santa Monica City Council has approved auto dealer Robert Kramer's plans to build a four-story Honda dealership on Santa Monica Boulevard.
In doing so, it denied an appeal submitted by Planning Commissioner Derek Shearer after the commission approved the project Nov. 18.
The council vote was 4 to 3, with James P. Conn, Alan S. Katz and Dennis Zane voting against the project and Mayor Christine E. Reed and Councilmen Herbert Katz, William H. Jennings and David G. Epstein voting for it.
Shearer objected to the dealership because, he said, it was too large for the site, did not conform to neighborhood building standards and did not require full environmental review.
The council, in approving the development, banned the use of loudspeakers outside the building and required Kramer to meet state ventilation standards for mechanics working in the basement service garage. The council also approved about 40 other conditions suggested by the planning staff.
The final approval of the Kramer Motors plan came after months of hearings before the Planning Commission and complaints from neighborhood groups that the proposed 54-foot building exceeded city height limits and ought to be subjected to a full environmental impact report.
A key issue in the debate was the project's floor-space ratio, or the ratio of building to land. The measurement is used to regulate the size of developments in the city. The Kramer project was permitted a 3-1 ratio, meaning that the auto dealer could build a 67,500-square-foot structure on the 22,500-square-foot site at 18th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.
A city Planning Commission report on the project said that Kramer's final proposal called for a 65,348-square-foot building, which came out to a ratio of 2.9 to 1.
But critics have said that because city planners did not include the building's roof and basement in its calculations, the building would actually be within the permitted ratio.
The planning staff said the roof area, used to store new cars, was not part of the building's floor space because it was not a closed area as required in the city's land use element, passed in 1984. The floor-ratio restriction was designed to limit the building's bulk, and the roof did not change the visual bulk of the building, the staff said.
The basement level, used for servicing cars, was excluded because moving it to another floor would not have changed the appearance of the building, the staff said.
"It's the same building and it's reasonable to say if you have the same building, there's nothing achieved by reversing floors," Kenyon Wilson, a senior planner, said in an interview Wednesday.