The Santa Monica City Council took its first votes on the Strategy Framework for the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the City General Plan at its July 22 meeting, and its reception to the plan was far from unanimous. In response to Council comments at last week’s meeting, Director of Planning and Community Development Eileen Fogarty had revised height and density plans downward, but not far enough to satisfy some councilmembers.
The Council approved most of the aspects of the LUCE report that it considered on Tuesday night by a narrow 4-3 majority with Mayor Herb Katz, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom, and Councilmembers Pam O’Connor and Robert Holbrook voting for the draft plan, and Councilmembers Ken Genser, Kevin McKeown, and Bobby Shriver voting against.
This was not a final vote on LUCE or the General Plan, but only a direction to City staff to proceed with the study of economic, social, and environment aspects of LUCE (including an Environmental Impact Report) based on the Strategic Framework in its present form. After that study has been completed, the entire plan will return to the Council.
The Council chose to take up the various aspects of the plan boulevard by boulevard, and district by district. The plans for Wilshire, Santa Monica, Pico, and Lincoln Boulevards, Colorado Avenue, and Broadway produced the 4-3 split, as did the plan for the “mixed use creative” district – that area east of Bergamot Station. The plans for Ocean Park Boulevard (which provide for no change from existing zoning) and the “Bergamot transit village” district (which the Council agreed was a clean slate on which to plan for the future) were approved unanimously.
Councilmember Genser was most outspoken in his criticism of the draft as allowing too much development, in terms of height and density. Shriver reiterated his weeks’ earlier request that the Strategy Framework specifically call out what it would not accomplish as well as what it would.
When O’Connor referred to Fogarty’s statement that 94 percent of the City was unaffected by LUCE – would be “preserved” – McKeown, joined by other councilmembers, expressed concern that the 94 percent be further protected lest garden apartments be replaced by “mondo-condos” as they might under existing zoning regulations.
The Council’s grueling pace of meetings – usually twice a month, but weekly since June 10 – will continue Wednesday, Thursday, and perhaps Friday of this week, July 23, 24, and 25, after the Mirror’s press time, when the Council considers the LUCE plans for the Memorial Park district, and the downtown core, airport and business park, civic center, Montana Avenue, Main Street, beach and oceanfront, and industrial conservation districts.
In other action, the Council confirmed the results of a very narrow election approving a Main Street Lighting Assessment District to levy assessments for festoon lighting and sidewalk cleaning, and continued until Thursday, July 24, its consideration of the election approving a downtown Property Based Assessment District (PBAD).