Santa Monica’s city ccouncil continued to review, discuss and modify the potential zoning changes that were incorporated in the Draft Land Use and Circulation Element document on July 1 and July 6.
One of the most controversial areas was what the future building heights should be. The controversy began during the planning commission’s review of the document after a group of architects (which included two members of the planning commission and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s LUCE sub-committee) claimed that the heights specified in the LUCE would produce poor quality architecture. The planning commission responded by modifying some of heights for some of the city’s land use designations. The city council agreed with the planning commission’s recommended height changes for the Mixed-Use Boulevard Low and Oceanfront areas. However, they decided to retain the recommended Draft LUCE heights for the Mixed-Use Creative, General Commercial – Santa Monica, Neighborhood Commercial, Industrial Conservation, Office Campus and the General-Commercial – Pico areas.
The council also voted to allow all 100 percent Residential Mixed-Use projects in the Mixed-Use Boulevard designation to be up to the planning commission recommendation of 55 feet or up to 60 feet with a corresponding percentage decrease in floor area ratio. All other mixed-use projects (those with commercial) are subject to the Draft LUCE recommendations. The council also supported the planning commission’s recommendations for building heights at Bergamot Transit Village of 81 feet if there is a corresponding percentage decrease in floor area ratio for heights above 75 feet. However, the council included a condition that would allow a maximum of 5 feet to be added to a minimum 13.5-foot ground floor height without that extra 5 feet counting towards the overall building height.
Another modification the council made was to permit auto dealerships who don’t already have storage or repair facilities in the City’s industrial zone to go into this zone with a City discretionary approval and a project specific Environmental Impact Report.
Councilmembers also endorsed the Draft LUCE sustainable strategies. These strategies include reducing greenhouse gases, reducing vehicle miles traveled, having a sustainable economy, reducing per-capita energy and water consumption, encouraging renewable energy use and production, improving environmental performance of buildings, and having green municipal operations.
Another council endorsement was the document’s strategies for measuring, monitoring and implem enting the LUCE. This process includes periodic review to monitor performance and progress, ability to put on the brakes to control the city’s rate of change, indicators tied to community priorities, reports back to the planning commission, and city council and ongoing community input on plans and projects.
Finally, the council endorsed the LUCE’s approach to retaining and enhancing the Santa Monica’s community character. This approach strives to maintain the city’s existing form and scale, ensure that new buildings contribute rather than detract form the character of the city, provide lively and complete streetscapes, and create active and vibrant spaces around the proposed Expo stations.
Further information on the LUCE process can be found at www.shapethefuture2025.net.