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Santa Monica’s Downtown Community Plan Moves Ahead


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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 5, 2017 -- The document that will guide development in Downtown Santa Monica over the next 20 years received the Planning Commission’s blessing last week and will head to the City Council for possible passage next month.

The commission recommended by a vote of 6-1 that the council approve the Downtown Community Plan (DCP).

“I’m so proud of this plan,” Commission Chair Amy Anderson said. “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."

She added, "And it does it in a really smart, thoughtful, and honest way.”

Released April 12, the DCP would limit downtown development to buildings of four to five stories, but would allow high-rises on select sites, including the land around the new Downtown light rail station ("Santa Monica Downtown Plan Seeks to Strike a Compromise, Officials Say, But Some Remain Skeptical," April 13, 2017).

Anderson’s enthusiasm is not shared by everybody. There are critics on all sides.

Santa Monica Forward, a local group advocating transit-oriented growth, has called the proposed plan "woefully inadequate response" to climate change and the need for affordable housing (“Group Seeks More Development for Downtown Santa Monica,” May 12, 2017).

The group, which is spearheaded by the city's political and civic establishment, said the is "aggressively slow-growth" and relies on "outmoded planning principles."

Leaders of the local slow growth movement argue that downtown is already built out and that it is time to either stop building or radically pull the reins.

They worry that the proposed plan will lead to more congestion and erode what is left of Santa Monica’s beach town charm (“Final Battle Over Plan for Downtown Santa Monica Begins,” May 17, 2017).

Before reaching the council, a few other commissions will have their opportunity to review the document.

The lineup includes the Landmarks Commission on June 12, the Housing Commission on June 15 and the Architectural Review Board on June 19.

The council sessions will take place July 10, 11 and 25. More meetings could be needed.


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