Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Downtown Specific Plan to be Temporarily Extended

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

June 4, 2015 -- The plan that guides all development for downtown Santa Monica likely will be temporarily extended until City leaders address the issue next year, the City’s top planning official said Wednesday.

Staff is asking the City Council next Tuesday to keep in place the existing plan, which is set to expire July 24, said David Martin, director of planning and community development for the city.

After much debate and disagreement, the city’s new zoning ordinance was adopted last month. However, city officials are still wrestling with the portion of the City’s zoning regulations that will guide development downtown.

Martin said that to make sure Downtown development is still covered by current regulations, city officials are obtaining extensions.

“The new one (zoning ordinance) doesn’t include downtown, so new interim ordinances are needed,” he said.

 Under city requirements, extensions can only be granted for 60 days, so several more extensions would be required, he said.

The temporary ordinance prohibits projects of 7,500 square feet or larger from obtaining permits or approvals unless they comply with all provisions of the ordinance.

It also requires a development agreement for projects that exceed 32 feet in height. Administrative approval on applications can be granted if the proposed project doesn’t require a discretionary permit.

Affordable housing projects of up to 50 units can be processed administratively if at least 25 percent of the units are for households with incomes of 60 percent or less of the area median income and the remainder are for households with incomes of 80 percent or less of the area median income.

The existing ordinance also allows project developers to apply for a shared parking permit, modifies floor area ratio calculations and protects public parking structures, according to staff.

Development Downtown is closely being watched by residents as four major projects make their way through the planning process.

This year, three hotels that include housing and a mixed-used residential development are among the 20 “priority” projects to be taken up by the Planning Commission.

On Wednesday, the commission voted 4 to 1 to recommend that the City Council negotiate a development agreement for a nearly 2-block, 148-foot-tall development on City-owned property in the Downtown core.

Slow-growth groups are threatening to take the developments to a public vote, contending that the City’s new zoning ordinance still allows too much building for the already congested city.

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