Santa Monica’s Planning Commission continued their review last Wednesday and Thursday, May 28 and 29, 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’s General Plan. Last week’s meetings focused mainly on boulevards and city districts.
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 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.
Both meetings (May 28 and 29) were marked by a lot of community interest and input from various community stakeholders. Land use attorney Tom Larmore, who was representing St. John’s Hospital, told the Commission the hospital is very interested in workforce housing “in their area” and therefore it should be designated in the LUCE as a “preferred use.” He also suggested that Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway should become part of the LUCE’s “healthcare district to help facilitate the expansion of healthcare uses.”
The Commission also heard from Land Use Attorney Kevin Kozal, who was representing the Santa Monica Auto Dealers Association. He stressed that “the Association believes, with limited exceptions, the LUCE should incorporate all the interim ordinance auto dealership provisions” that have been put in place by the City Council. He also noted the Association is willing to concede to the LUCE framework so auto dealerships would be prohibited in the City’s Light Manufacturing Studio District (LMSD).
The Chair of the Santa Monica Sustainable City Task Force, Dennis Woods, expressed his concern that the “policies [in the framework] are not linked to implementation measures.”
Mid-City resident Katherine Eldridge pointed out that the framework seemed to lack the inclusion of additional elementary schools, libraries, and post office facilities for the proposed mixed-use development in the framework for the eastern end of the City.
Representing the operator of the Bergamot Art Gallery Complex, land use consultant Howard Robinson stated that there was a major problem because the framework proposal for the Bergamot Transit Village didn’t include “transit-patron parking. We believe we could provide transit-patron parking in a subterranean garage that could be tied in with” the art galleries and the proposed hotel there. “This is a regional obligation because the region is paying for the light rail so we should serve it,” he said.The entire LUCE strategy framework can be found at www.shapethefuture2025.net