Members of the community were given a glimpse of some of the key elements of the Draft Land Use and Circulation Element (DLUCE) and the chance to comment on them at the community workshop hosted by Santa Monica City staff on April 7, at Lincoln Middle School.
Santa Monica’s Director of Planning and Community Development, Eileen Fogarty, emphasized in her presentation that the DLUCE responds to many of the concerns the city heard during the many community input workshops. She noted that “conserving neighborhoods is the foundation of the plan,” so goals and policies are included to preserve the unique characteristics of each neighborhood. Some of the conservation policies are redirecting residential market pressure to transit corridors, maintaining the character and scale of the neighborhoods, and encouraging “complete neighborhoods.” These complete neighborhoods would contain easy access to daily needs and social/recreation opportunities nearby.
Also contained in the DLUCE are new transportation management tools which integrate land use and transportation to combat climate change. These tools include locating housing, local serving retail job opportunities near transit, converting existing regional serving commercial to local-serving retail/commercial and housing to reduce local and regional trips. In addition, the DLUCE integrates the future Expo Light Rail into Santa Monica.
Long-term sustainability is also a key component of the DLUCE. Strategies are included for economic viability/opportunity, stimulating local green business development, increasing housing affordability, developing workforce diversity, addressing climate change and air quality, conserving resources, and increasing the city’s open space and urban forest.
The DLUCE also includes strategies to maintain the City’s beach character, historic resources, assures public benefits are derived from development projects, and ensures there would be “on-going community discussion and input” in the city’s planning process.
Community members had the chance to give input at different stations that were manned by city staff. One concern raised at the neighborhood historic preservation area was retaining the city’s neighborhood’s character and scale. The other was preserving local commercial establishments so that more national chains don’t come into the city. A key issue expressed at the social and cultural development station was that the city should encourage affordable shopping and services to go along with affordable housing options. Those who commented on sustainability and climate change wanted more buildings to be re-used rather than having new buildings constructed. They also asked for more facilities for storm water retention. For the city to discourage landscaping that’s water intensive. Some of the comments on transportation linked housing affordability to transportation options while those concerned with land use issues were concerned about the scale of the future projects that would be permitted to built in the city.
The workshop ended with comments from the planning commissioners.
Commissioner Jim Riess wanted to have more economic analysis of the feasibility of the DLUCE to see “how realistic it is” that the projects it sets parameters for can be built.
Commissioner Ted Winterer said, “There’s so much in this document that’s better than the current general plan. I hope we can wrap it up before July 4.”
Fogerty explained that the next steps would include another community workshop on urban design and the completion of the Final EIR, which will contain responses to all the public comments received for the Draft EIR. Planning commission will hold hearings on the Draft LUCE and Final EIR including recommendations to the city council on both of them. Ultimately, the city council will have a final hearing on the Draft LUCE and the Final EIR. The Council decisions during the hearings will include whether to certify the Final EIR and whether to adopt the LUCE.
Further information on the LUCE process can be found at www.shapethefuture2025.net.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com