Jason Islas | Santa Monica Lookout

While the City Council approved the Bergamot Transit Village Tuesday night, the conversation about the mixed-use, transit-oriented development is far from over. A group of residents have called for a referendum on the project and some have threatened legal action in order to stop Texas-based developer Hines from building the 767,000 square-foot residential and commercial project on the site of the abandoned Papermate factory.

Whether there is enough political will among residents to actually stop the project remains to be seen, but opinions about the project, which would be built walking distance from a new Expo light rail station, are as strong as they are varied. “We failed as a community” to negotiate a better project, said former mayor Michael Feinstein. Feinstein belongs to a camp that believes the project should have had more housing.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilmember Ted Winterer proposed a motion that would have kept the project the same size but would made 70 percent of the project housing instead of the current 55 percent.

“There should have been five votes for that motion,” said Feinstein. But it failed 5-to-2 partly because the change would have delayed the project for months at the expense of the developer.

And, the City risked losing the development agreement (DA). Since Hines could simply convert the current building to office space without a DA, the City would lose out on housing and the attendant tens of millions of dollars in community benefits proposed in the current DA.“Had Ted’s motion been a negotiating point earlier in the (seven-year-long planning) process,” said Feinstein, it could have been an option. {….}