SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 to approve the final draft of the city’s Downtown Community Plan (DCP) on Wednesday, May 31, according to a press release from the city on Thursday, June 1. Commissioners, community members, and city officials gathered at six meetings between April 26 and May 31 this year to discuss the 300-page blueprint of the future of Downtown Santa Monica, and 22 related meetings in total over the six-year planning process. The final draft of the DCP will head to City Council in July for approval.
“I’m so proud of this plan,” said Planning Commission Chair Amy Anderson. “It does such an amazing job of changing land use patterns in terms of density and mobility options and by doing that creates a lot of access and opportunity. And it does it in a really smart, thoughtful, and honest way.”
The DCP was officially released on April 12, after an extensive process that involved collecting the views of over 2,000 residents, employees, and members of the business community. The plan prioritizes affordable housing, a lower scale for Downtown, public transportation, economic diversity, and preservation of historic resources. According to the DCP guidelines, new complexes along Ocean Avenue will be limited to 50 feet, while other buildings near the Expo Line will be allowed to reach more than 80 feet.
Since its release, the plan has faced criticism from opposing sides of the development process. Members of the slow growth movement argued that Downtown has been developed enough and that further development in the area would be unsustainable. Lobbyists for developers maintained that the height limits proposed by the DCP should be increased, with fewer fees and less strict affordable housing requirements.
According to the press release, the Planning Commission recommended approval of several items in the plan, including an expedited process for housing projects to strengthen the DCP’s “housing first” approach. They recommended additional incentives for 100 percent affordable housing projects, with height and density bonuses; improved design standards to reduce building mass and provide open spaces, access to light and air, and a range of architectural styles; and strategies to provide resident access and mobility to Downtown.
The Commission also recommended the removal of a special process to approve projects on three Established Large Sites headed to downtown, including renovations of the Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue, a mixed-use hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard, and a project at 4th Street and Arizona Avenue, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
“We are grateful for the deep commitment and sincerity of everyone that participated in the last two months of discussion on the DCP,” said Planning and Community Development Director David Martin. “The time and thought that were dedicated to refining the vision for Downtown has added tremendous value and was worth the extra time it took to get it right.”
Before reaching the Council, several other commissions will review the DCP. The Landmarks Commission will hold its public hearing on Monday, June 12, at 7 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers, 1685 Main Street. The Housing Commission will review the plan on Thursday, June 15, at 4:30 p.m. at the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 4th Street. The Architectural Review Board will meet on Monday, June 19, at 7 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers.
The DCP will be heard by City Council at a special meeting on Monday, July 10, and at regular meetings on Tuesday, July 11, and Tuesday, July 25. All meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers, at 1685 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.