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Santa Monica Eases Rules for Repairs


The Santa Monica City Council has declared a state of emergency in the city and adopted two ordinances to facilitate the repair and demolition of hundreds of buildings damaged in Monday's earthquake.

The state of emergency declaration authorizes the director of emergency services to seek federal and state disaster aid. City officials do not have an estimate on repair costs, although they are expected to be substantial given the 300 structures that sustained damage.

Of the damaged buildings, 83 have been deemed unfit for occupancy. The city Building and Safety Department has been receiving 60 requests an hour for inspections.

The emergency ordinances were adopted Tuesday night and will be in effect for at least 45 days.

One ordinance waives permit fees for renovation work and the other creates a one-stop permit process for restoring damaged buildings and outlines streamlined procedures for obtaining demolition permits.

"We will have a series of workshops for the public to explain our one-stop permit process," said Planning Director Suzanne Frick. "All our departments will be in one location, and permits will be issued over the counter."

Individual service to resolve planning, fire, parking and traffic concerns will be available at the Building and Safety Department.

One permit combining authorization for building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical and street repair work will be issued.

Zoning code requirements will be eased, but repaired and renovated structures must adhere to current square-footage and height and setback limitations. New site uses will not be permitted, although the council may reconsider that decision Monday.

Repairs to structures larger than 25,000 square feet will be subject to review by the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board.

The Building and Safety Department will determine which structures should be demolished based on public safety, historical significance and repair or rehabilitation costs.

The ordinances come just in time for 11th Street residents Jean and Sheila Gebman and their three children. The family pleaded with authorities Tuesday night to raze their neighbor's house, whose second story is jutting out precariously. The Gebmans have been sleeping on their front lawn in the 600 block since the quake.

"We just want this thing knocked down as soon as possible so we can get some rest," Sheila Gebman said.

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