Residents had the opportunity to participate in the final Citywide workshop for the update of the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) for the City’s General Plan. The workshop, held at Lincoln Middle School, explored implementation strategies for the plan over the next 20 years and relevant economic issues.
A draft framework for implementing the plan was presented to the community at the April 2 event by City staff, which evolved from past LUCE workshops with a “holistic approach” for future project evaluation. This framework included the following questions for evaluating future projects:
1. Does the project meet an identified community need or a community benefit such as a facility, a service, infrastructure, or a program?
2. Does the project protect neighborhoods, is it in the right location, and is it designed correctly?
3. Does the project contribute to the City’s overall traffic reduction and management strategy?
4. Does the project have long-term sustainability characteristics such as economic benefits (increased city revenues), social equality benefits (support the needs of all Santa Monicans), or environmental benefits for the city?
Also part of implementing the plan framework were “adaptive management” techniques, which means future “land use and transportation actions shall be measured and monitored for ongoing success” and “public participation shall be key to all planning processes.” Participants also had the opportunity to break into groups to discuss and give input on the implementation strategies.
An economic analysis of the draft plan was also discussed at the meeting. Bill Whitney, the City’s economic consultant, explained that an economic analysis of the plan was necessary to “evaluate the performance of Santa Monica’s key economic sectors, identify current and future development opportunities that respond to market demand, and to identify lands that are suitable for development or redevelopment.” Other reasons for the analysis were to “consider approaches to link local housing with local jobs, identify uses that generate economic benefits, and to validate the proposed public benefits and development incentives that underlie the LUCE.”
Whitney’s analysis found economic opportunities in developing more hotels, additional retail in the major districts, particularly in the automotive-related area, updating the City’s movie theaters, providing more office space for the creative industries, expanding hospital/medical facilities, and creating workforce housing.
City staff will now integrate the final community input into the draft plan, and then the Planning Commission will review the draft in May. The Commission’s input will then be forwarded along with the draft plan to the City Council in June.