Over the last several months the Santa Monica City Council and other City boards and commissions have provided input on the Strategy Framework for the City’s update of its Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of its General Plan. The City Council has also set the stage for the next steps by giving policy direction so that the process can culminate with the adoption of the final LUCE 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.
An e-mail from the City’s Planning and Community Development Director Eileen Fogerty noted the Council recommendations included a quick implementation of measures to protect and preserve Santa Monica’s neighborhoods, and having City Staff identify and test additional tools necessary for specific aspects of neighborhood preservation.
Council direction also specified the significance of public process for development review of future projects so that according to Fogerty, future projects “are evaluated on their ability to meet the City’s and community’s identified objectives and expectations.” Also important in future projects will be their ability to contribute public benefits and their compatibility and transition to residential neighborhoods.
Managing and reducing traffic were also part of the Council’s direction as was their recommendation of having all projects above the base height of 32 feet meet specific transportation requirements. In addition, the Council recommended that the project heights that are being analyzed for traffic and other environmental impacts meet current City zoning standards rather than the higher heights specified in the Strategy Framework. Council direction also included a “No Net New Trips” policy for traffic management and encouraging sustainability. Fogerty noted “This policy will be used to monitor and evaluate the success of LUCE over the next five years.”
Another Council recommendation was to have future development phased over the 20-year life of the plan with ongoing monitoring at five-year intervals to determine if traffic management strategies are working citywide and at the designated activity and transit centers. The Council also agreed with having transit centers at Bergamot Station, Downtown and Memorial Park and requested that the initial environmental and economic analysis for these transit centers include a range of housing and creative uses.
Council will be using the results from the additional City staff analysis along with additional input from the community to help them make additional recommendations for the final LUCE draft plan. The final LUCE draft plan will then be reviewed in a serious of public hearings and then the final plan will be adopted.