After several meetings of detailed review, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission endorsed the “spirit, approach and concepts” embodied in the land use and circulation element strategy framework (LUCE).
LUCE 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 avenues of transportation. The zoning ordinance translates the land use element’s goals and objectives into standards and procedures. They were last comprehensively updated in 1984.
Before making their endorsement, the Commission reviewed and refined their recommendations. General recommendations included a need to look at a public benefit to subsidize “Mom and Pop” shops after development, the need to define workforce housing and its relationship to affordable housing, creating a phasing schedule for when development should occur in key transit areas, and measuring and monitoring the plan’s performance, including providing for necessary adjustments.
Some key suggestions for City Boulevards were that boulevards should be thought of as a whole rather than dividers of neighborhoods, and having Wilshire, Pico, and Ocean Park Boulevards be extended to Ocean Avenue. When it came to City Districts, the Commission questioned the large boundary for the hospital specific plan and asked that there be enough density around transit stations to support transit use and less vehicle dependence.
The Commission also added some neighborhood goals, including a clear policy to require ground level open space for multifamily development projects, identifying ways to allow the residential stock to regenerate, and adding more pocket parks and encouraging access to said parks from alleys. Transportation suggestions included determining the feasibility of bike lanes on all boulevards, allowing no new car trips during peak traffic periods, and promoting alternative fuel vehicles.
Two members of the community also spoke. Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tom Larmore stated that the Chamber “supported the key strategies in the framework.” Larmore added that the Chamber was in favor of establishing targets for certain types of uses, with a monitoring process over the next 20-year period in order to track impacts. He then requested that a strategy be included to “allow for the replacement of hotels in the beach overlay district” in case they are destroyed.
Resident Jack Walter called the strategy framework a “sound, holistic document framework for the future of Santa Monica” and expressed his support for the creation of activity centers.
The framework, along with the Commission’s recommendations, will now be forwarded on to the City Council for its review and endorsement. That review will take place on July 1, 8, and 15. Steps after that will include appropriate economic, traffic, and environmental analysis of the strategies.