A wide variety of comments were received from various Santa Monica stakeholders during the 45-day comment period for the Draft Land Use and Circulation Element’s (DLUCE) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
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.”
Santa Monicans For Renter’s Rights (SMMRR) submitted one of the lengthiest comments in which they stated that the DEIR is “insufficient and deficient because it stresses a limited series of possible scenarios, but does not take into account a wide variety of very real impossibilities that could easily come to pass that would have significant environmental impacts.” Their comments focused on the “Population, Housing and Employment” area of the DEIR because they are interested in “the balance between jobs, and housing, and the environmental implications of various mixes of housing affordability.”
Some of SMRR’s concerns were that the DEIR did not soundly answer to what extent the DLUCE would exacerbate the current City of Santa Monica jobs/housing imbalance. The DEIR did not analyze whether the Final LUCE would provide sufficient housing to ensure Santa Monica could maintain its demographically diverse population. That the DEIR did not analyze the various impacts from the DLUCE proposed ratio for commercial versus residential development for the transit-oriented areas.
A number of the City’s neighborhood groups also commented on the DEIR. One of the items the Ocean Park Association noted were that the DEIR did not analyze the environmental effects of “allowing the proposed and pending developmental agreements currently in the pipeline at City Hall to exceed the maximum heights and FAR allowed by the LUCE.” Also the group sited the environmental effects of “allowing the transit-oriented development near the Expo line envisioned by the DLUCE to be built prior to the completion of the light rail,” and the impacts if the Expo was significantly delayed in completion or never completed.
A few of the issues mentioned by the Pico Neighborhood Association were that the DEIR did not analyze who will monitor the Traffic Demand Management programs and remedies for non-attainment, what will happen if the stated goal of “no new net trips at PM peak hour” is not achieved, and what will be the impact of increased traffic and car idling that comes from traffic congestion, on the surrounding neighborhood?
Community activist Catherine Eldridge noted the DEIR fell short in many areas including addressing what the environmental effects would be if all the LUCE development planned did occur but the buildings were not fully utilized, did not compare the impacts from the citywide retail/commercial intensification with the impact that would occur, if we continued with our current existing zoning limitations and did not analyze what the total energy demands will be for each size and type of development.
Mid-City resident Gregg Heacock found that the DEIR did not look at the environmental impacts from adjusting the commercial/residential ratio from 60-to-40 to 40-to-60 near the proposed Expo Light Rail, how housing seniors near the Expo Light Rail stops “would impact the population’s use of the Light Rail,” and that the report does not provide mechanisms to deal with “several possible negative effects of development on traffic flow” mentioned in the report.
The Final Draft EIR for the Final LUCE should be complete in June and will contain responses to all of the comments submitted during the comment period for the DEIR.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com