Tesla 62-stall Supercharger project in Santa Monica isn’t dead yet

Santa Monica, California City Councilmembers are still interested in Tesla’s 62-stall V3 Supercharger project. Apparently, there is still hope that the project could eventually happen in the future as long as the time and property availability line up with what would be Tesla’s largest V3 Supercharger station in the world.

After Tesla proposed a 62-stall V3 Supercharger site in Santa Monica in early March, the Santa Monica City Council voted 5-2 to approve the site that would bring the automaker’s fastest chargers to the coastal town located in Los Angeles. Santa Monica would officially become the home of the world’s largest V3 Supercharging lot, and LA-based owners were ecstatic regarding the possibilities. Along with the Superchargers, a small lounge would also be available for owners to use the restroom or hang out for a few minutes while their electric car gained some range.

However, just a few days after the site’s approval, the Santa Monica City Council met once again. They scrapped the project in favor of an Emergency Interim Zoning Ordinance that prioritized housing instead of electric vehicle chargers. The ordinance would temporarily reserve any available commercial property for potential housing development, including apartments and condominiums. The ordinance would last between 45 days and two years, depending on an extension process.

Tesla’s 62 stall Santa Monica V3 Supercharger hits speed bump, LA housing crisis takes priority

Now, City Councilmembers indicate that Tesla could still open up the project eventually as long as the scenario is right. Councilmember Kevin McKeown said (via Santa Monica Daily Press):

 I’ve already been working with City staff to see if we can get Tesla and the property owner to come back with such a project.”

Unfortunately for Tesla, the timing of the proposal was just off. There wasn’t really much that the automaker could do, especially as housing and reducing displacement remains a priority to the Santa Monica City Council. There are not enough housing options in the Santa Monica area. To prevent displacement of families living in currently-built complexes, the City Council decided that new buildings were the best option. Therefore, Tesla’s project took an unfortunate backseat to make way for new housing opportunities.

The proposed Supercharger location is a perfect location for new, appealing apartment complexes, McKeown added. “The Tesla site is at the intersection of major bus routes, with two bus stops, one on the boulevard and one on 14th Street. And while EV charging is a laudable amenity, one I have championed over the years, it could be done in a mixed-use format that provides housing as well,” the Councilmember said. “If we’d exempted their existing proposal from the temporary commercial-only moratorium, we might instead have had to swap into our Housing Element Suitable Sites Inventory other parcels where residents live currently. I’d prefer to both protect current residents from redevelopment of their homes for what would likely be less-affordable housing, albeit more of it, and provide EV charging in a format that makes wiser use of scarce land in a crucial location.”

Another Councilmember, Noelani Derrickson, petitioned to have Tesla’s Supercharger project exempted from the Emergency Ordinance. Derrickson said Tesla has been working closely with the Santa Monica planning staff for over six months, highlighting the advantages a Supercharger station would have in the location that was proposed. The councilmember said, “Tesla has been working closely with Santa Monica planning staff for over half a year now on a Tesla electric vehicle fast-charging station that includes solar energy and battery storage within the mid-city neighborhood.”

Derrickson’s argument persuaded the fellow Councilmembers to unanimously vote on a temporary hold for commercial projects like Tesla’s Supercharging station and other automotive dealerships. This alone proves that the Supercharging facility may not be dead after all. It just may come a tad later than expected.

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