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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : Residential Projects OKd

May 04, 1989

The City Council has approved two residential projects rejected by the Planning Commission, which had decided that the unit designs were not "child-friendly."

Councilman Herb Katz made an appeal on behalf of developer Dane Chapin and architect Michael Folonis for their four- and five-unit condominium projects on Pier Avenue and Grant Street.

The commission earlier denied approval of the projects, claiming that placement of living rooms and bedrooms on separate floors was not conducive to family living.

Katz said that these were "off-the-wall decisions of the Planning Commission," and that "there is no way you can tell someone how to live within the confines of their own space."

Councilman Ken Genser agreed, saying, "I think it's really wrong to enforce rules we don't have."

Chapin argued that his project had been denied because of the "personal whims of the Planning Commission," even though he had complied with all zoning rules and regulations.

Michael Folonis, architect of the Grant Street project, said he had built 50 units of the same type and had never heard a complaint from parents living in them.

Whether a home is safe "has to do with how parents take care of their children as much as the design of the building," Folonis said. Appellants and council members agreed, however, that the concept of "child-friendly" floor plans was something that should be studied and could eventually be incorporated into city housing policy.

A motion was unanimously passed Tuesday that directed staff to examine the "child-friendliness" of units being built in Santa Monica and to develop standards that may be used in future policy.

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