Santa Monica’s Planning Commission began their review last Thursday of the framework that was developed through extensive community input for the update of the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the City General Plan.
The land use element delineates the distribution of different types of buildings (housing, business, industry, open space, etc.) while the circulation element sets out the location of existing and proposed roads, highways, and other modes of transportation. The zoning ordinance translates the land use element’s goals and objectives into standards and procedures. They were last updated in 1984.
According to Eileen Fogerty, the City’s Director of Planning and Community Development, the purpose of the Commission’s review is to tell City staff what areas need more analysis and to suggest alternatives to study for the LUCE’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The City Council will conduct the same type of review during the summer and the staff will have the analysis complete by January of 2009. The EIR process for the plan is expected to start in August or September and the draft LUCE will be ready in the Spring of 2009.
Several members of the community expressed significant concerns about the LUCE process at the May 22 meeting. The Co-Chair of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Land Use Committee, Chris Harding, told the Commission “that there was a consensus of the people at the Chamber of Commerce that we’re going to need some real time to work through this [framework]. I do think this is the time you also should go through it in detail and provide detailed comments. We do think that it’s important that when this document emerges from the Commission it’s the Commission’s document [instead of] “a staff document with a superficial gloss by the Commission.”
Jean Dobson, Chair of the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Group noted that even though a lot of ideas have been discussed at the LUCE workshops about dealing with the City’s parking problems, the Commission needs to make sure they “are implemented so we can get some change.”
Allen Epstein who is a partner with MSD Capital, the owner of the Miramar Hotel, asked the Commission to ensure those who want to read the framework “with great care to have the opportunity and the time to do so.”
Jack Walters told the Commission he “wouldn’t want to see this process derailed. I believe the framework is a good foundation and it shouldn’t be picked apart but rather it should be examined and expounded upon.”
Commissioner Chair Gwynne Pugh tried to assure the community that “We will have opportunities to hear from the community further as we go through this process.”The next meeting on the framework review will be tonight at 7p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Please check the City website for next week’s meetings on the review.