October 23, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Design Standards – An Urban Dance and Who Chooses?

This is a follow up to our recent articles which discussed the effects of design on our environment, our culture, heritage and economy.  Santa Monica’s temperate beachfront environment attracts corporate and off-shore investment dollars that will continue to influence and dictate our future with the premium returns financing political campaigns! Why should we allow these external forces to shape our town and lifestyle? The resulting “mansionization” under current zoning is irrevocably changing the character of our neighborhoods and the soul of our city.

Our planning commission will be addressing some of these issues in the weeks immediately ahead and our small band of architects (SMa.r.t.) strongly encourages the following adoption of single family code requirements which we feel will allow more inspiring and diverse design while preserving our neighborhood character.

SITE COVERAGE: Building area not to exceed 50 percent of the site area, or 55 percent with a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

FLOOR AREA: Total floor area not to exceed 50 percent of the site area, or 55 percent with a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

(NOTE: under state law these percentages may have to be modified to produce this same result)

HEIGHT: 23 feet maximum for a flat roof or 28 feet to the ridge of a pitched roof, with no perimeter vertical wall higher than 23 feet to the eave edge

MASSING: A minimum 25 percent of the front elevation to be offset 10 feet from the required front yard setback

2nd FLOOR ROOF DECKS: Roof decks shall be setback a minimum of 10 feet from required front, side, and rear yard setbacks

BASEMENTS: Any space that qualifies as a basement under the current code is exempt from square foot area limitations and to be no more than 3 feet above existing grade at any point

SOLAR RIGHTS: In order to conform to Santa Monica’s solar ordinance which will go into effect  soon, a detailed solar access provision shall include house massing on the northwest and northeast sides with respect to hours of the day, orientation of the lot, relative topography of the adjacent property, and new landscape to be added

These simple guidelines should enable clients and designers to create varied solutions in stark contrast to the two-story boxes (generally “Cape Cod” or some other generic design) that are prevalent today.  The house diagrams illustrated here show plans that meet these site coverage, area, height and massing standards while being more than comfortable in both room count, size, and flexibility of design.

While these observations and recommendations address the single family residence, there is much to be said about applying an equal amount of revision to the multi-family and commercial standards.  The R3 multi-family zoning standards and the “development agreements” allowed are leading our city down a physical, visual, and non-sustainable asphalt paved, auto clogged path resulting in a city of 4, 5, and 6 story block buildings pleasing only to drones hovering overhead. 

And we are seeing a disastrous negative impact on our downtown, and equally along the boulevards with proposed projects in the pipeline. Current development is driving small mom and pop stores out of the community and an increasing number of residents no longer shop or dine, or even go to movies downtown, opting instead for other nearby locations.

In summary, we desperately need to retain and encourage the casual beachfront lifestyle we enjoy in Santa Monica, one that fosters a sense of pride rather than allowing a bloated, developer inspired environment.  We are creating buildings with little if any sense of design and certainly without respect for either the residents living within or outside these faceless structures. We need to celebrate diversity, but instead we have moved from courtyard architecture to corporate architecture that is neither visually or spiritually meaningful.  It’s time to step up and speak up and help maintain the community we know and love, and to stop this continuous yielding to developer money and influence. 

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow (a small tribe of seven, which includes six architects all practicing in Santa Monica with over 285 years of architectural and planning experience, one of whom is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and also includes the chair of the city’s Planning Commission, a Building & Safety Commissioner, an Arts Commissioner and former Chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, a group totaling over 275 years of residency in the city)

Ron Goldman FAIA, Thane Roberts, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Phil Brock, Santa Monica Arts Commission.  For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

Related Posts

City Council Endorsements: Santa Monica Needs a Change

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Santa Monica City Council endorsements from the Santa Monica Mirror The following are two endorsement articles from Santa Monica Mirror...

Crime in Santa Monica Is Declining: Santa Monica Beat – October, 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Crime in Santa Monica Is Declining * 335 Homeless Residents Housed...

Forma Expanding to Main Street: Westside Food Scene

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Westside Food Scene October 22, 2020 By Kerry Slater Forma Expanding to Main Street Popular Santa Monica Italian restaurant Forma...

California Supreme Court to Hear Santa Monica Voting Rights Case

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Court to rule on future of at-large elections in Santa Monica By Sam Catanzaro The California Supreme Court will determine...

LA County Says Younger Adults and Teenagers Are Driving COVID-19 Cases

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

68 percent of new cases among people between ages of 12 and 50 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health...

Santa Monica Has Issued Over 40 Face Covering Citations

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

City expanding COVID-19 compliance efforts with the addition of “Health Ambassadors”  By Sam Catanzaro The City of Santa Monica says...

Grand Jury Indicts Former Angel Employee in Tyler Skaggs’ Fatal Overdose

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Fort Wayne grand jury indicts Eric Prescott Kay on drug distribution and drug conspiracy charges By Sam Catanzaro A federal...

YogaWorks Studios Closing Amid Pandemic: Santa Monica Beat – October, 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * YogaWorks Studios Closing Amid Pandemic * Carjacking Suspects in Custody All...

Edify TV: More Bike Lanes for Westside

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

A Westside city is adding more miles of protected bike lanes. Learn more in this video made possible by Santa...

Outgoing Santa Monica Police Chief Set to Receive Nearly $100K of Severance Pay

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Santa Monica City Council approves retirement agreement for outgoing chief Cynthia Renaud By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica’s outgoing police chief...

Intravenous Vitamin Therapy: A Natural, Effective Solution for the Flu

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

By Dr. Mahboubeh Hashemi, ND and Dr. Matthew Cavaiola, ND  As fall and winter are fast approaching, many people, and...

Edify TV: Deal to House Homeless People Near Freeways

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

After months of negotiations, the City and County of LA reached a $300 million deal to house thousands of homeless...

Santa Monica’s Police Chief Retiring

October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

SMPD Cynthia Renaud announces retirement, to be replaced by former Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica has announced...

Virtual Staging Changing The Way We Sell Property?

October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

Today on Westside Cribz, Chuck Lorre buys his neighbors home, Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk selling his Santa...