Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the City’s Planning Department by the Social Services Commission.
Dear City Planners
The Social Services Commission thanks you for your presentation at our April 25, 2016, meeting and appreciates the opportunity to comment on the draft Downtown Community Plan (DCP). We are pleased to share with you the Commission’s response to the February 29, 2016, draft of the DCP and hope that our responses below are reflected in future drafts of the plan.
First, we very much appreciate the use of Wellbeing Project data to guide the City’s thinking about the DCP. We encourage the continued (and expanded) use of Wellbeing Project data (especially 90401-specific data), not only for neighborhood planning but also for evaluation of proposed projects on a case-by-case basis.
Second, we wish to ensure that the terminology used in the DCP refers to the social services that are and will continue to be provided in Downtown Santa Monica, as well as the full range of permanent, transitional housing, bridge housing, rapid rehousing, and other types of supportive and low-income housing, and is compliant with federal and state housing regulations and grant requirements. We appreciate your commitment to consult with the Human Services Division to ensure alignment in these areas.
Third, we are concerned that the DCP provide for low-income affordability for families, including but not limited to ensuring that the housing mix includes an adequate supply of 2- and 3-bedroom units accessible to and affordable for families earning at or below the average wage for Downtown workers (2015=$48,883 per full-time wage earner). Given the housing insecurity crisis, we believe that these should not only meet, but indeed exceed, citywide Measure R standards, and that planning for affordable units should maximize community connectedness and effective provision of wraparound social services that meet residents where they are.
Fourth, we remain concerned about the availability of parks and open space suitable for active living and wellbeing activities. Commissioners noted with concern that the DCP does not appear to identify any sites for the type of publicly owned ground-level parks or open space that might enable the diverse range of services and programming needed to support the growing diverse, multigenerational downtown population.
Fifth, the Commission notes the community benefits that are derived from Tier 2 and Tier 3 developments as provided for in the Land-Use and Circulation Element of the General Plan (LUCE). Assuming that a similar set of tiers appears in the final version of the DCP, and bearing in
mind current statutory and/or regulatory constraints, we recommend that Policy LU3 specify that new Tier 2 and Tier 3 commercial developments should include set-asides for affordable/low-cost office space for community nonprofits, and social enterprises (in addition to set-asides for cultural and educational uses). We recommend that Policy LU7 specific that new Tier 2 and Tier 3 construction should include controlled-rate community rooms for public use (prioritizing Santa Monica residents and Santa Monica-based public benefit organizations).
Finally, the DCP implementation plan at Item AM6.2B calls for investments in water fountains and publicly accessible bathrooms. We hope that the DCP might reference Santa Monica’s status as a community friendly to pets and support animals, including provisions for dog parks and pet watering stations.
The Social Services Commission hopes to continue to work productively with the City to see that the DCP is implemented with all residents in mind, across the broad and vibrant diversity of our community. If we can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Chair, Social Services Commission