From Renters Write, March 2011

Planning Commission

Implementing LUCE

Last summer the City Council adopted a new Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) for Santa Monica. The LUCE, extensively reviewed by the community, the Planning Commission and the Council over six years, will serve as the blueprint for growth and mobility in our town for the next two decades. SMRR's Land Use Committee met regularly to offer input on the LUCE to our appointed and elected officials.

Arguably the most significant feature of the LUCE is its neighborhood conservation policies, which will discourage tear-downs of existing housing in our residential zones and direct redevelopment to our commercial boulevards and to the industrial lands on the east end of the city adjacent to the Expo light rail line, which is scheduled for completion in 2015. Consequently, our existing stock of rental housing will be preserved.

Now comes the challenge of implementing the vision of the LUCE. The Commission recently forwarded to the Council for approval an interim ordinance to assure all new development meets the LUCE standards. Now we face the more substantial task of revising our zoning ordinance to reflect the LUCE and to enable new affordable housing, transportation demand management, shared parking, better cycling and pedestrian amenities, sustainability features and other community benefits from projects.

Also ahead for us is the review of several development agreements for large projects in the east end of town. In addition, the Planning Commission will be developing specific plans for downtown and for the area adjacent to Bergamot Station. The Downtown Specific Plan kicks off at a community meeting to discuss options for the City-owned parcel at 5th and Arizona on March 23rd at 6:30 pm, location TBD. Please check for details on this workshop and other opportunities to comment on future development, as the Commission is eager to hear residents voice their opinions.