The Santa Monica Planning Commission has voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council make the modified development standards for the Sunset Park and North of Wilshire R1 neighborhoods permanent.
The modified development standards had been adopted by the Council in February of 2003 as an interim ordinance and then were extended with a few modifications in June of 2005 and modified again in October 2005. According to the City staff report, “These standards were introduced to respond to neighborhood concerns regarding increased demolition of modest homes in favor of larger single-family dwellings that were incompatible with the neighborhood’s existing character.” The newer construction could potentially impact “light, air and privacy for surrounding residents.” These new measures “reduce the allowable massing and bulk” and are similar to those required for north of Montana.
At the September 6 meeting, City staff recommended “second floor parcel coverage for R1 properties North of Montana Avenue, as well as the Sunset Park and North of Wilshire Boulevard neighborhoods.” Second floor coverage includes “lofts, oversized entries or other high ceiling areas.” Another addition made by the Commission was how properties with slopes should be dealt with.
These criteria state that the maximum parcel coverage of a lot would be 35 percent, but if a one-story structure is no more than 18 feet in height then it could be up to 50 percent. There are also standards specified for side yard setbacks, garage doors, one-story garages, architectural projections into side yards such as eaves, awnings, canopies, sunshades, trellises or arbors, and balconies and porches.
Guidelines for review by the City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) are also included in the recommended standards. ARB review will be necessary if changes are made to a parcel with a grade differential of 12.5 feet or more between the front and rear parcel lines, “any structure with garage doors facing the public street which are not set back a minimum of five feet from the front setback line, any structure on a parcel that is 50 feet or more in width that does not comply with the 30 percent total yard setback and any structure with balconies or porches open on at least two sides with a maximum height of 14 feet including parapets and railings which project into the required front yard and which exceed fifty percent of the front building width measured at the front façade.”
The Commission agreed with the City staff that extending these additional development standards to the R1 neighborhood north of Pico Boulevard and south of Exposition Boulevard was not necessary because these neighborhoods have not “been subject to the economic pressures [of development] that have characterized other R1 neighborhoods in the City.”