September 18, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Village Project Closer To Reality:

Santa Monica’s Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board approved the proposed design concept plan for the Civic Center Village residential and open space plan, with some additional recommendations, after a joint meeting of the two bodies on May 30.

According to the City staff report, the approximately 325-unit mixed-use Village will contain 160 affordable residences, live-work units and neighborhood-serving retail services. The report states the public open space component will include “a public plaza to connect with the future Palisades Garden Walk Park and a pedestrian-only walk-street through the site; an extension of Olympic Drive from Main Street to Ocean Avenue; an integrated public art component and a showcase for sustainable design elements.”

Both bodies suggested adding bike lanes and/or paths on Olympic Drive and throughout the Village. They also recommended including the following Development Agreement negotiating points: sustainable transportation elements, articulating the site along Olympic Drive to avoid a wall effect on Olympic Drive, allowing for greater height on the southeast corner of the site adjacent to the Viceroy Hotel and encouraging a “living street character” by including eateries and tables where possible.

Planning Commissioner Jay Johnson asked that the City be sure during negotiations to clarify the specifics of the infrastructure requirements for Olympic Drive, such as sidewalks and the cost of parking. He also wants to ensure that the affordable housing units are constructed concurrently with the market rate units.

On June 6, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to forward the principles that were derived from the recent Placemaking and Neighborhood Conservation workshops in the Pico area, the Wilshire/Mid-Cities neighborhoods and the Ocean Park/Sunset areas to the City Council for review. These principles were also voted on at a Citywide meeting last month. 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.

Commissioner Darrell Clarke made the motion that the Commission supported, which will add, among other things, “social ability” to neighborhoods by having places for people to gather. The motion also included having an “economic strategy” for the City’s future development. He also called the principles “a wonderful step forward.”

The workshop process will continue with a series of workshops on the future of the City’s industrial lands. According to the City’s Planning and Community Development Director Eileen Fogerty, areas that will be focused on include “preservation of industrial lands, Exposition Light Rail, opportunities for market rate and workforce housing, street congestion, street grids and size of parcels, and open space, landscaping and streetscape.”

Civic Center Village was reviewed by the City Council on June 19. See next week’s Mirror for details.

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