October 1, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

New Leadership for Planning Board:

Santa Monica’s Planning Commission recently elected Terry O’Day as its Chair and Hendrik Koning as its Vice-Chair.

O’Day has been a member of the Commission since July of 2003 and served as its Vice Chair this past year.  He is also the Executive Director of Santa Monica-based Environment Now. In an interview with the Mirror O’Day stated that during his tenure as Chair he hopes to “continue the great progress” the City has made on the update of the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the City’s General Plan.  He wants to continue the community’s involvement in the process all the way through, until the City begins translating the update into the City’s zoning code.

 To O’Day, LUCE thus far is still missing certain details “so it can be taken to the next level” to better reflect the specific interests of the community.  Some of the areas he feels need more work are specific plans for the Memorial Park area and Bergamot Station.

As Chair, O’Day also has some personal goals, including getting meetings to move along efficiently, making sure the Commission has all the necessary information available to make their decisions on an issue or project, and addressing the specific issues that are important to a project the Commission is deliberating.

Koning, an architect with Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architecture, has been a Commission member since July of 2005.  His goal is to complete LUCE “so the City can get its planning in line with the community’s input.”  He also wants to make the process and procedures the Planning Department uses clearer for both developers and community members.  He believes there is a lot of confusion as to what aspects of a project the Planning Commission is supposed to focus on.  He would also like to speed up the time it takes a developer’s application to get on the agenda and the time it takes to appeal a planning decision.

The new Vice Chair believes Proposition T has a lot of shortcomings.  The goal of the proposition is to reduce traffic by placing an annual cap on commercial development with certain exceptions.  Koning is worried such a cap would “impede creating the transit-and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods” the community has asked for during the LUCE process.  He is also concerned that the conditions of the cap are not flexible enough, that it “doesn’t set down the procedures” for its implementation, and it doesn’t have any provision for workforce housing.

One of Koning’s goals is to improve the City’s Sustainable City Report Card, especially in the areas of creating more workforce housing and reducing the City’s carbon footprint.  He would also like the City to strive for the same economic diversity in shopping as in housing.

The Mirror also had the opportunity to speak to the Board’s newest Commissioner, Gerda Newbold.  She has spent a good part of her career working in affordable housing, including five years with the Community Corporation of Santa Monica.  She currently works for the City of Hollywood’s Affordable Housing Corporation as a Project Manager.  She wanted to be on the Planning Commission because she is very interested in city planning with “a frame of reference of affordable housing.” 

Newbold’s goals include improving traffic flow in Santa Monica and preserving the City’s affordable housing stock.  She is a big supporter of the LUCE process and is opposed to Proposition T.  She doesn’t “think limiting development will limit traffic.”  To her, “putting a development cap is not good public policy.”  She believes Santa Monica is “a great community’” and wants to help keep it that way for future generations.

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