The Santa Monica City Council endorsed the draft goals of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) project, as recommended by the City Planning Commission, at its November 14 meeting.
Eileen Fogarty, Director of Planning and Community Development, gave a presentation to the Council that outlined the emerging themes and goals of the project, which is expected to fulfill these goals by 2025. Among the themes listed were: Balanced Growth, Enhanced and Protected Resources, Connected and Protected Neighborhoods, Community Design, Local Identity/Regional Context, Environmental Responsibility, Community Care, Effective Transportation Systems, Local and Regional Mobility, Universal Safety and Well-Designed Spaces.
These themes emerged, according to Fogarty, from a series of studies, neighborhood workshops and input from various City boards and commissions. The next step, to be taken in the spring of 2007, will involve looking at different options and weeding some of them out in order to implement the project’s goals.
Some Councilmembers and some of the speakers during the public hearing felt that the LUCE plan had not dealt with specific issues. Jacob Samuel spoke about development in Ocean Park and suggested that the City should review mobility issues again six months from now to gauge the impact of the new multi-purpose buildings on Main Street. Gary Gordon, of Main Street Business Associates, said that a study should be done to see who is driving on Main Street at different times of day.
Councilmember Kevin McKeown, who acts as Council liaison to the Landmarks Commission, was concerned that the plan should take into consideration the preservation of historic structures. He also wanted more study of height restrictions and asked that something be included in the plan that would provide more support for the arts in Santa Monica by providing for more affordable housing for artists.
Jerry Rubin urged the Council to endorse the plan, adding, “By the time it’s done I’ll be 82 but I still hope to be here to see it.”
With all the suggestions for additions noted, the Council voted unanimously to endorse the LUCE plan.
In other actions, the Council approved a recommendation from Community and Cultural Services to allow short-term leasing of the former Rand property at the Civic Center for cultural events between July and November 2007.
The Rand property is slated for development as a City park. The idea for using the property for events prior to that development emerged during the City’s recent series of Village design workshops, according to Barbara Stinchfield, Director for Community and Cultural Services.
Stinchfield said the policy for leasing of the property would require that the events be cultural or entertainment events and be open to the public, and that event producers would pay a $500,000 minimum lease cost which would go toward the cost of developing the site as a park. Event producers would also be responsible for creating their own traffic and parking plans.
The Council passed the recommendation with no opposition but added a bullet point that would involve participation by local schools.
The Council also approved a program to provide rental housing vouchers to low-income seniors and approved a petition to allow preferential parking on the south side of Alta Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets, for two-hour periods 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
A much-anticipated discussion of an ordinance to ban non-recyclable plastic and Styrofoam containers in Santa Monica was withdrawn from the agenda. At this time, there is no information on when it will be rescheduled.