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Final Draft of Santa Monica Downtown Plan to Be Released Next Week  
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 6, 2017 -- After more than six years in the planning, the final version of a blueprint for future development in downtown Santa Monica will be released next week, addressing contentious issues over the heights and sizes of new buildings.

The final draft of the Downtown Community Plan (DCP) will be made public Wednesday, April 12, in a meeting in the Civic Center East Wing, at 1885 Main Street. It is from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the City said.

“We'll walk you through the key elements of the plan shaped by substantial resident input,” according to a statement from the City’s Planning and Community Development Department, the DCP’s authors.

Specifics of the new draft DCP have not yet been made public, but some the most outspoken critics of the plan's earlier versions are leery nonetheless.

The “question should continue to be asked by residents: Who stands to benefit from the planned massive development of our downtown?” said Tricia Crane in an email to members of Northeast Neighbors this week, urging them to attend the meeting.

Many of Santa Monica’s neighborhood associations have been highly critical of the DCP, along with local slow-growth groups Residocracy and the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC).

After its unveiling on Wednesday, the DCP will head to the City’s Planning Commission for review.

The panel’s seven members, who are appointed by the City Council, serve in an advisory capacity on the issue.

A final vote by the City Council is expected in the next few months.

Santa Monica’s DCP will dictate development in downtown through 2030 and is meant to specify mass and height limits for new buildings, set open space and preservation standards and address a host of other planning issues.

After delays, a new iteration of the plan was unveiled in November ("Santa Monica Set to Tackle Downtown Community Plan Again," November 8, 2016).

Although the proposal followed an unprecedented eight-month outreach effort by the City, reaction to it was not warm -- even among those from the public who had participated ("New Santa Monica Downtown Development Plan Spurs More Worries," November 22, 2016).

At that point, the DCP’s authors had left some controversial issues unresolved.

Among them was whether to clear a path for the 12-story Plaza at Santa Monica, a proposed mixed-use project on 2.5 acres of City-owned land at 4th/5th and Arizona.

The project -- which originally totaled 420,000 square feet -- has been scaled back at the request of the City Council, but slow-growth activists are calling for the site to be used as an urban park ("Plaza at Santa Monica' Project Scaled Back," February 8, 2017 and "Slow-Growth Activists Girding for Fight Against "Plaza at Santa Monica" Downtown," February 28, 2017).

Other major projects that will be impacted by the new plan are the proposed renovation of the Fairmont-Miramar Hotel and a nearby hotel designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry ("Nearly 3.8 million Square Feet of Development Await Approval in Santa Monica's Jammed development Pipeline," November 3, 2016).

The Miramar redevelopment is being redesigned after opposition to an initial plan that called for a 568,940 square foot project with a 320-foot-tall tower.

The proposal for the Gehry-designed building calls for 338,695 square feet and reaches a height of 255 feet.

The proposed projects inspired Residocracy to craft Measure LV, a slow-growth initiative on the November ballot that was soundly defeated after stiff opposition from Santa Monica's political, civic and business leaders and two campaigns largely bankrolled by developers ("Backers of Defeated Santa Monica Slow-Growth Measure Blame Development Money, Claim Success," November 10, 2016).

While downtown's largest proposed projects remain controversial, City planners say that their public outreach effort has found plenty of common ground.

Residents and visitors, they say, prefer small and medium-sized businesses downtown. They also want more open space, new streetscapes on Lincoln, Wilshire, Ocean and 4th Street and an emphasis on historic preservation.

Contact information for Wednesday’s meeting is on the City’s website.


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