From Renters Write - March 2013

Planning and Zoning Updates

Since the adoption of the LUCE in 2010, (the updated Land Use & Circulation Element component of the City’s General Plan) Planning staff and consultants have been evaluating the Zoning Ordinance and preparing to update the zoning codes to reflect the new policies outlined in the LUCE. Santa Monica’s Zoning Ordinance regulates how land in Santa Monica is developed and used. The Zoning Ordinance Update process will incorporate the community’s vision for Santa Monica for the next 20 years according to the LUCE. Some important goals include expanding affordable housing, protecting residential neighborhoods and historic resources, and promoting walking, biking and transit alternatives.

During the last twelve months, staff has shared their progress with the Planning Commission, City Council and the community. Staff and consultants are preparing a series of formal reports, called Issue Papers, outlining their research and recommendations. Issue Papers cover topics such as community benefits, parking and circulation and zoning districts. A full list of Issue Papers can be found online (the link is provided below).

Another component of LUCE implementation is the creation of Area and Specific plans for several distinct neighborhoods, or districts, including Bergamot and Downtown. Both neighborhoods will serve local residents as well as the broader region so the plans must carefully balance transportation and circulation, housing, recreation, employment and sustainability needs.

A draft of the Bergamot Plan has revealed the proposal for two conservation districts within the Bergamot Area boundaries to ensure that Bergamot’s celebrated creative arts traditions are preserved and remain prosperous. Overall, the Bergamot area is envisioned as an active, sustainable neighborhood. This means that neighborhood serving uses will be available throughout the district, a variety of street types will promote walking and biking to minimize any need for automobile trips and a diverse mix of housing options will be developed. In addition, the City’s current Transportation Demand Management Program is being evaluated and improved to help reduce vehicle trips in the city.

The light-rail Expo station at 4th and Colorado is expected to transport thousands of people to and from our celebrated Downtown, so it’s no surprise that pedestrians were a focus of recent Downtown Specific Plan community workshops. Improved sidewalks and streetscapes, wayfinding and more gathering spaces were priorities of many participants. Other common themes include parking and circulation concerns, the desire for more public art and cultural resources, historic preservation, affordable housing and iconic architecture. Community workshops about the Downtown Specific Plan are still ongoing, so be sure to stop by and share your thoughts about the urban design of our vibrant Downtown neighborhood at a future workshop.

Information about Issue Papers and the Zoning Ordinance Update, the Bergamot Area Plan and the Downtown Specific Plan workshops can be found online.