The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released in January has found the Santa Monica’s Draft Luce and Circulation Element (DLUCE) would cause significant and unavoidable environmental impacts to the city’s air quality, noise levels, and historic resources over the next twenty years.
This DEIR was prepared because under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) the city’s update of its LUCE is considered a project and is therefore subject to CEQA requirements. According to the DEIR, the document “will inform public agency and decision-makers and the public generally of the significant environmental effects of a project, identify possible ways to minimize the significant effects, and describe reasonable alternatives to the project.”
The report notes that no “no feasible mitigation is available” for the construction emissions for the land uses allowed under the proposed LUCE. These emissions along with other regional emissions would exceed the “Localized Significance Thresholds” established by federal and state standards for air quality during construction. Construction would also result “in a substantial temporary or periodic increase in ambient noise levels” and cause nearby inhabitants to experience “excessive vibration levels.”
Also noted in the report is that it is “conceivable that the demolition or substantial modification of historic resource could occur” despite the rigorous regulatory framework proposed in the DLUCE to preserve historic structures within the city.
Lastly, implementation of the DLUCE would result in the creation of additional solid waste.
The report also analyzed five alternative projects to the DLUCE as required by CEQA. These alternatives were;
1) No project – continuing with the 1984 Land Use and Circulation Element 2) Existing City Development – limiting and deterring the vast majority of new development
3) Condensed Nodal Development – focusing future land use changes even more on designated transit nodes than under the proposed DLUCE 4) Reduced Height and Development – new building heights and floor area ratios would be lower than under the proposed DLUCE but all other land use and transportation policies of the DLUCE would be proposed 5) Existing Zoning – having the city revise its land use element to conform to the existing zoning ordinance, and limit future land use activities to the zoning regulations that are currently in place.
Alternative three was found to be the environmentally superior alternative because it would have fewer environmental impacts than the proposed DLUCE or any of the other alternatives. In addition, it “would not shift impacts to other parts of the region.” This alternative would have fewer traffic impacts during the AM rush hour and would achieve a greater reduction in vehicle miles traveled per capita due to its higher residential and employment densities.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com