Santa Monica has been working on a community vision of how the City should evolve over the next 30 years and the many components that would contribute to that process.
Residents from throughout the City had an opportunity on July 7th to express their views on what community benefits they would like to derive from future development and how to control growth. The workshop was another step in the City’s ongoing process of updating its Land Use and Circulation Elements of its General Plan.
During the workshop, about 125 residents broke into groups to help prioritize community benefits such as affordable and workforce housing, creative arts, open space and historic preservation into future projects. Some common themes became clear when the workshop participants shared their key discussion points with the entire group. A key overall theme was “thinking outside the box.”
Most residents agreed that a clear definition had to be given to workforce housing as well as the prioritization of building affordable housing. They also wanted to give priority to affordable housing to those who work in Santa Monica and encourage the replacement of lost rent control units.
Another important community benefit everyone emphasized was improving the City’s transportation network with such things as increasing walkability, bikability, having wider sidewalks, improving traffic flow on the south side, having better traffic management, encouraging local transit, and more Big Blue Bus efficiency and frequency.
Also discussed were having better development controls to encourage sustainability, prioritizing the environment over a project’s aesthetic appeal, encouraging less density, and slowing development.
Other public benefits suggested were having more neighborhood elementary schools and libraries, more childcare facilities, senior activities, youth programs, and planting more trees.
Community members would also like to see neighborhood retail that is sustainable as part of future developments. In addition they would like to more historic preservation of historic resources by the ocean and of resources that preserve neighborhood character.
Participants also had the opportunity to vote on the public benefits they would like to see citywide and at specific locations in the City. The specific locations were Downtown, Wishire/Santa Monica, Broadway/Colorado, Bergamot Station, and Pico/Ocean Park/ Lincoln Boulevard.
Lastly, community members each filled out a survey on the many possible ways to measure and evaluate the City’s progress on following the community vision for the City’s future. The community vision for survey purposes was broken into a complete community, neighborhood conservation, transportation choice, a fiscally healthy City, and the public engagement process.
After the community process, the Planning Commission made some closing comments. Commissioner Jim Reiss called for the LUCE process to end “before the next election cycle.”
Commissioner Jay Johnson asked that the City not approve Development Agreements that were outside the new LUCE limits. He also suggested rationing development in order to encourage competition between projects, discouraging office uses, and building long-term housing for seniors.