Amendments to zoning codes to support affordable housing production and streamline approval process
The Santa Monica City Council has taken steps toward implementing the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element. At Tuesday night’s meeting, Amendments to the City’s Land Use Documents, including the Land Use and Circulation Element, Bergamot Area Plan, Downtown Community Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and General Plan Land Use Map and Zoning Districting Map, were adopted by the Council to align with the Certified Housing Element and State-assigned housing allocation. The zoning code changes will go into effect 30 days after the second reading scheduled for April 11, 2023.
The Council’s action aims to support new housing development in the City’s mixed-use and non-residential zones, with a significant emphasis on affordable housing production. The new amendments require that 15% of units be provided as deed-restricted affordable units. Additionally, the Council has incorporated lot consolidation limits for housing projects on portions of Main Street, Pico Boulevard, Montana Avenue, and Ocean Park Boulevard to ensure that housing opportunities are available in each of these commercial districts while balancing existing commercial activity.
According to Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis, “Ensuring the implementation of a compliant Housing Element paves the way for Santa Monica to address housing production. We know that housing is critical to advancing community priorities, including addressing homelessness. Santa Monica will continue to fulfill our State-mandated obligations while being thoughtful about housing affordability.”
The City’s certified 6th Cycle Housing Element streamlines the approval of housing projects through an administrative approval process and more efficient timelines, commits City-owned property for the development of affordable housing, and updates zoning development standards to support housing production across the City. It also allows new housing to be developed in non-residential zones where housing is currently not permitted, provides opportunities for housing production on residentially zoned surface parking lots and community assembly sites to minimize displacement, and encourages the development of moderate-income housing citywide. The Housing Element also aligns local regulations with State laws.
Recent progress to expand affordable housing in Santa Monica includes the approval of the designation of surplus land at three City-owned surface parking lots for the development of affordable housing, the opening of the City-funded Community Corporation of Santa Monica property Las Flores with 72 affordable apartment homes, and over 230 more City-funded affordable homes at various stages of development. The City also made a loan commitment for the Little Berkeley property to serve low-income households. With the passage of the voter-approved Measure GS, more funding sources will become available to support affordable housing production.