The California Coastal Commission avoided a showdown this week over recommendations that, if adopted, might have prompted the Rand Corp. to move out of Santa Monica.
Rand, a nonprofit think tank that employes more than 1,000 people to research defense and social issues, is protesting the commission staff's recommendation to limit any expansion of its 15-acre Main Street location.
The staff proposal "simply forces Rand out of the city of Santa Monica," Rand Vice President Rae W. Archibald said in a letter to the city.
A commission hearing on the expansion limit scheduled for Wednesday was postponed at the last minute after commission staffers, Santa Monica officials and representatives of Rand asked for more time to work out a compromise.
10% Expansion Limit
The controversial proposal would limit Rand to a maximum 10% expansion of its 285,000 square feet of office space and require it to dedicate a public accessway near the north end of its property. Rand has occupied its site at 1700 Main St. since 1952, according to a spokeswoman.
Rand is planning to expand more than 10% just to meet its present need for office space, Archibald said.
The think tank cannot break up its headquarters site and move some researchers to another location because it would prevent "the required interaction of people with many disciplines and skills," Archibald said. "Rand is known for its interdisciplinary approach."
The proposal from commission staff took the form of a modification of Santa Monica's proposed local coastal program. All coastal governments are required by state law to have a coastal zoning and land-use document that must be approved by the Coastal Commission and, in this case, the Santa Monica City Council.
Santa Monica's coastal zone extends from the beach east to 4th Street and, south of Pico Blvd., from the beach east to Lincoln Boulevard. It includes the Rand site.
The commission staff sought to limit Rand's expansion because the think tank's site is within an area that the staff has designated for uses such as hotels or stores.
After the hearing was postponed, Santa Monica Mayor James P. Conn said city and commission staffers most likely would work out many of the minor disagreements they have had over provisions of the city's coastal program.
If the two sides cannot agree to remove the limitations on the Rand expansion, the commissioners probably will overrule the staff recommendation, Conn said.
The author of the proposed restrictions on the Rand site, commission planner Teresa Henry, said Tuesday that the staff would oppose any proposal to expand Rand by more than 10% unless the city or Rand could suggest a way to tie the use of the site to the beach and to nearby Santa Monica Pier.
However, "it is not a situation where it is shoved down the city's throat," Henry said. If Santa Monica does not agree with the commission plan, the city will have six months to suggest changes.