City officials are currently working on a plan for Downtown that will dictate the height and density of future buildings. (Brandon Wise brandonw@smdp.com)

City officials are currently working on a plan for Downtown that will dictate the height and density of future buildings. (Brandon Wise brandonw@smdp.com)

CIVIC CENTER— Residents voiced fears of overcrowding resulting from the proposed Downtown Specific Plan at a public environmental impact report meeting Thursday night.

Environmental consultant Dan Gira of AMEC, which will write the EIR, explained the project’s timeline and listened to public comment.

The proposed plan lays out zoning guidelines for any future construction.

As it is now, the plan would increase allowed densities but not maximum building heights, which remain at 84 feet. A framework plan was approved by the City Council in September.

Gira explained that the EIR would study a variety of environmental factors, including noise, greenhouse gas emissions and water usage.

Amec has worked in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Gira said, and he highlighted their work with historical buildings. He said they will study aesthetic factors like sun and shadow.

“A lot of the community are concerned about light and air Downtown, and changes in character, so we’ll be doing photo simulations and building massing in the EIR so you can kind of get a vision of what things will look like,” he said.

Amec also plans to address construction noise, Gira said.

Thursday night was a part of a month-long public comment period on the EIR. Through Oct. 21 residents can write letters or e-mail City Hall. Letters should be sent to 1685 Main St., Santa Monica, Calif., 90401. Make it clear that the letter is regarding the Downtown Specific Plan EIR. Residents can also e-mail rachel.kwok@smgov.net.

AMEC will compile the public comment to be included in the final report, Gira said. A matrix created by AMEC will allow residents to track responses to their comments in the EIR.

Public draft of the EIR will be unveiled in January, followed by a 45-day public review period. The EIR is expected to be finished by March of 2014.

During the public comment portion, Liz Bell urged AMEC and City Hall to wait until the Expo line opens before evaluating Downtown.

“I assure if you mess up this place, with buildings that are too big and out of scale with the rest of the other buildings, with sidewalks too crowded to walk and streets too crowded to drive, word will get out that once there was a place that was nearly perfect, but they ruined it,” she said to the applauding crowd. “Money, and the thought that just one more building would be OK.”

Miriam Ginzburg, a resident since 1948, spoke to even more applause

“Someone said, ‘are we victims of our own success?’” she said. “I think we’re just victims at this point.”

 

 

dave@smdp.com

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