Mirror Staff Writer
Santa Monica’s City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance that will create more space for businesses located on the ground floor of mixed-use residential developments.
Architectural Review Board (ARB) Chair Joan Charles urged the Council to approve the ordinance which her Board and City staff helped craft by noting, “As an ARB member for the last seven years, I’ve seen first-hand the explosion of mixed-use buildings downtown, many with small, barely usable retail spaces…in order for this area to function as a true neighborhood with shops, cafes, dry cleaners and similar resident-serving businesses, we must create adequate, inviting spaces to house those businesses.”
The new regulations will now require new buildings on 6th St. to contain 2,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space for every 50 feet of frontage while those on 7th St. will be required to have 1,250 square feet per 50 feet of frontage. Landscaping and ceiling height requirements will also be modified.
Alan Freeman, representing JSM construction, one of the key developers of mixed-use development on 6th and 7th Streets, expressed support for the recommendations by stressing these standards “would improve the buildings in the interim while a more comprehensive [land use and circulation element] update is fleshed out over the next few years.” The City is currently updating those aspects of its General Plan.
Community Activist Ellen Brennan pointed out to the Council that, “All of the commercial space parking in these mixed-use buildings is behind locked gates. What this means is that there is no public parking available to people who want to access those businesses.”
The Council responded to Brennan’s concerns by asking City staff to investigate whether spaces required by City issued permits are actually accessible to the public and if not how to avoid this problem in new projects.
Other Council news:
The Council also approved the 2006-07 action plan for the use of $3.3 million in Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Act entitlement grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds will be for tenant rental assistance, affordable housing, residential rehabilitation program, accessibility modifications and improvements and capital projects such as the new homeless access center at 505 Olympic Blvd.
Lastly, the Council directed staff to investigate the suggestion by community activist Jerry Rubin to ban Segway use on the Promenade because of the danger it poses in a crowded pedestrian environment. The analysis will also look at banning the Segway on bike paths as well.