SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Santa Monica Tesla owners are about to have a new place to charge their cars. Wednesday night, the Santa Monica Planning Commission approved the electric vehicle maker’s proposal to build a so-called supercharger station on two adjacent sites in the 1400 block of Santa Monica Blvd.

“We’ve been getting a lot of comments from the public about how this will help Tesla owners that live in apartments or don’t have private places to charge their cars,” said James Combs, associate planner with the city of Santa Monica. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Santa Monica Planning Commission has approved a Tesla supercharger station on Santa Monica Blvd.

  • The site will include 62 superchargers for Tesla vehicles and restrooms for patrons

  • Tesla currently operates a bank of 10 superchargers at the Santa Monica Place mall

  • A supercharger can fully recharge an electric vehicle in 30 to 45 minutes

The new supercharger station will include 62 charge ports that are only compatible with Tesla vehicles, making it the second-largest Tesla supercharger site in the world. The California-based carmaker opened its largest supercharger site, with 72 charge ports, in Shanghai, China, late last year.

A Tesla supercharger, or Level 3 charger, is capable of fully recharging a car in 30 to 45 minutes, whereas a Level 2 charger takes between five and eight hours. 

While Tesla has a bank of 10 superchargers at the Santa Monica Place Mall, it is insufficient for the number of Tesla drivers in the area. The coastal city with 92,000 residents is home to 950 Teslas, the city says. 

Santa Monica owns 150 public Level 2 chargers and plans to install as many as 20 EVGo Level 3 chargers later this year.

Tesla originally reached out to Santa Monica about two years ago with some preliminary drawings for a supercharger site in the city, Combs said. It submitted a formal application for the project in September 2020.

The Santa Monica Blvd. site will be open 24 hours a day, according to the Planning Commission report on the project. Tesla said it anticipates 100 vehicle charge sessions per day over a period of 16 hours, with the highest usage on weekend days. Full utilization of all 62 chargers is expected to happen just once or twice a year during popular travel holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

In considering the plan, the city requested that Tesla have a community liaison to address concerns about anything that happens at the site. It is also requiring that the site be cleaned and inspected daily by Tesla staff. In addition, it’s proposed way-finding signs so that people leaving the station are directed towards their destinations. The city does not anticipate the site will lead to any traffic issues, Combs said. 

The station will be operated on two adjacent sites bisected by an alley. The location at 1401 Santa Monica Blvd. was most recently operated as an auto dealership. The adjacent location at 1421-1425 Santa Monica Blvd. is currently vacant. 

The project will be developed in phases, with the 1401 space operating as a temporary charging facility. Using a "mega charger" battery mounted to a truck, it will be able to charge eight cars at a time until the remainder of the project is permitted and constructed. 

In addition to the superchargers, the site will also provide restrooms that are accessible to Tesla owners while using the facility, similar to other Tesla charging stations. It does not, however, include a cafe or store to shop for ancillary Tesla products, like some other supercharger sites.

Following a two-week period during which the public is allowed to appeal the city’s decision, construction of the new Santa Monica supercharger site could begin by summer.