June 9, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Pugh New Planning Board Chair:

Gwynne Pugh has been elected to be the Chair of Santa Monica’s Planning Commission.

Pugh had been serving as the Commission’s Vice-Chair for the past year. He is a partner with the Santa Monica architectural firm Pugh + Scarpa and has been a member of the Commission since January 2004.

The Commission also elected Terry O’Day as its Vice-Chair. O’Day is the Executive Director of Santa Monica-based Environment Now and has been a Commission member since July 2003.

The Commission also discussed whether it was necessary to update the City’s definition of an Artist Studio. Commissioner Jay Johnson told his colleagues, “My sense is the use of Artist’s Studios as a design methodology is going to be expanded as we go forward.” He also noted an increasing number of artists are interested in living and working in studios, and there are a number of places in Santa Monica that could be rezoned to accommodate them.

The Commission agreed with Commissioner Johnson and decided, “to pursue” a Planning Board interpretation of an Artist’s Studio. To help assist them, they asked Jessica Cusick, the City’s Cultural Affairs Manager, to get input from the City’s Arts Commission and from those artists who are already living in an artist live/work situation.

Cusick read a definition previously adopted by the Arts Commission of what an artist is. The definition: “A working artist is one who is recognized by critics and peers, has verifiable training and/or a reputation and credentials, and works in one or more of the following areas: (1) A person who works in or is skilled in any of the fine arts, including but not limited to painting, drawing, sculpture, book arts and print making. (2) A person who creates imaginative works of aesthetic value, including but not limited to literature, poetry, play writing, film, video, digital media works, literature, costume design, photography, architecture, music composition and conceptual art. (3) A person who creates functional art, including but not limited to jewelry, rugs, decorative screens and grates, furniture, pottery, toys and quilts. (4) A performer, including but not limited to singers, musicians, dancers, actors and performance artists.”

Cusick also pointed out that from her research thus far it’s been easier in other cities to enforce zoning codes for artists based on restricting “the amount of space devoted to living” rather than based upon occupation.

The Commission also heard from Santa Monica cabinetmaker Jack Walter who said creating an appropriate definition for an Artist Studio is a “unique opportunity to create something you don’t find elsewhere in Los Angeles.”

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