Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles previewing City Council’s reviewing of the Zoning Ordinance Update. The articles will focus on the issues that city officials have deemed heavily discussed.

During City Council’s marathon meeting Tuesday night, it’s likely that you’ll hear certain issues broached again and again.

Next week, council reviews the proposed Zoning Ordinance, which will dictate land uses throughout the city for years to come, and while the document is hundreds of pages long, there are certain hot button issues that city officials have identified as points of focus.

The Planning Commission has been grappling with the ordinance for months and they just recently passed it off to council. The public will weigh in on Tuesday and council will talk about it on Wednesday. If all goes according to schedule, it’ll be back for final approval in May.

Auto dealers

Santa Monica is a hub for auto dealerships in Los Angeles County and their future regulation is on the table at Tuesday’s meeting.

Much of the conversation has centered around identifying the thresholds at which an auto dealer would have to go before council or the Planning Commission to get permission to build or make changes. Anything below those thresholds will be subject to approval only by city planners or other city officials.

The proposed ordinance would remove the requirements for the expansion of an existing auto dealership on commercially zoned land.

Any proposed development under 15,000 square feet could be approved by city officials rather than council.

The ordinance will push for the establishment of these dealerships along Santa Monica Boulevard from Lincoln Boulevard to 20th Street.

Additionally, the ordinance would increase setbacks for dealerships next to residentially zoned land from 10 to 15 feet.

Development on multiple parcels

A popular development tactic of late has been to combine multiple plots of land into one larger one.

The temporary ordinance, which has been in effect while the new one is hashed out, prohibits consolidations that result in parcels exceeding 7,500 square feet. The Planning Commission liked this approach.

City officials warned that this could inhibit the creation of courtyard housing, which, they said, the commission and the public generally support. “Consequently, the Draft Zoning Ordinance would create an exception to the parcel consolidation provisions if courtyard housing is proposed that meets the minimum courtyard requirements … and would allow courtyard housing to be built based on the total maximum number of units allowed on each of the parcels prior to consolidation,” city officials said in their report to council.

Additionally, any projects that are 100 percent affordable housing would be exempt from the provision.

Floor limits

The current ordinance does not limit the number of stories that can be built in commercial districts if the project includes at least one floor of housing above the ground floor.

The proposed ordinance would not place floor limits on projects that are 100 percent housing above the ground floor in mixed-use commercial districts and the Oceanfront District.

“The Draft Zoning Ordinance would establish a firm cap on the number of stories for all other development,” city officials said, “and projects with 100 (percent) residential uses above the ground floor would still be subject to all other development standards including established standards for discretionary review.”


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