Residents had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the placemaking principles derived from three neighborhood workshops at a citywide workshop held at the Civic Auditorium on May 7.
Eventually, these principles will be integrated into the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements in order to create an urban design vision for the City for the next 20 years. The City began its update of these elements in 2004. The last time this was undertaken was in 1984.
The City’s Planning Director, Eileen Fogerty, explained that the three previous “workshops focused not only on neighborhoods but also on the transition of the neighborhoods into boulevards.” At the three workshops, input was obtained from the Pico area, the Wilshire/Mid-City neighborhoods and the Ocean Park/Sunset Park areas.
Some of the residential neighborhood principles endorsed include what the Planning Department called the “neighborhood as the neighborhood’s living room, making neighborhood streets pedestrian/bike friendly, respect for and preservation of existing housing stock, compatibility in scale and size of residential property, alternative parking solutions and a variety of alternatives to the auto.”
The community also supports having “walkable mixed-use residential/retail ‘places,’ land uses that support neighborhoods” and integrating gathering places into mixed-use development, according to the Planning Department.
Walkable community principles were also deemed important, such as pedestrian-scaled buildings and sidewalks, “enhanced connections from neighborhoods to boulevards,” mixing of uses along active retail streets and using streetscape improvements to make streets pedestrian-friendly.
Parking and transportation principles were also voted upon, including supporting pedestrian and bike use, a transportation system with high capacity transit and linkages between neighborhoods and commercial areas, citywide synchronization of traffic signals, on-street parking, integration of off-street parking into the design of buildings, parking districts and having shared parking facilities in narrow/shallow lots.
As for boulevards, the community likes “street-facing buildings with ground level interest for the pedestrian, storefront parking and preferred housing height for mixed-use ‘Placemaking’ buildings, community benefits and sensitive transitions,” in the words of the Planning Department.
Residents also pinpointed short-term projects to improve the their neighborhoods. According to City documents, these are “characterized as projects that are aligned with current policy and resource allocation.” The short-term action supported for Ocean Park will be funding streetscape improvements on Ocean Park Boulevard west of Lincoln Boulevard. In Sunset Park, the short-term action will be a pilot program on 14th-18th streets for landscape and streetscape improvements.
A project endorsed for the Pico area is “to initiate a corridor study with the help of the community to create standards and guidelines that will assure better buildings with an enhanced pedestrian environment.” Lastly, the short-term project for the Wilshire/Mid-City area will be to “provide regional transit and shuttle service within Santa Monica.” To that end, the Big Blue Bus will be introducing a north-south shuttle that will loop on 14th and 20th streets crossing Wilshire Boulevard.
Additional community workshops this fall will focus on workforce and affordable housing, industrial uses and other issues.