Editor’s note: This is the third 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.

Tomorrow, City Council will listen to hours of discussion about the proposed Zoning Ordinance, which will dictate land-uses throughout the city for years to come.

All types of minutia will be discussed but just over a dozen issues, many of which have been covered previously by the Daily Press, will likely come up the most.

Council will take its first crack at the ordinance Wednesday night and, if all goes according to plan, they could finalize it in May.
The Planning Commission has been grappling with the ordinance for months.

Parking, loading, and circulation

One of the biggest issues the commission debated was consideration of how many parking spaces should be allotted for any new property.  The commission recommended that parking requirements be determined based on use and whether or not the project is located in commercially zoned areas near the incoming Expo Light Rail or high service transit areas around Lincoln and Pico boulevards or Santa Monica Boulevard at Fourth Street.

“A parking maximum would also be established, allowing a relatively small proportion of additional parking spaces to be provided by right with the two exceptions,” city officials said in their report to council. “1) additional parking being permanently provided as public parking or 2) replacement parking fulfilling the requirement for another use.”

The traffic demand management (TDM) requirements for developers would be increased.

“The Draft Zoning Ordinance would¬† lower the threshold at which an Emission Reduction Plan is required from 50 or more employees to 30 or more employees,” the report to council says. “For developers the threshold for requiring an annual TDM plan would be 7,500 square feet for non-residential projects and 16 or more units for residential projects; and the intensity of TDM that is required for a project/employer would be based on the proximity to transit services with higher Average Vehicle Ridership targets in transit-rich districts.”

Landmarks and Structures of Merit

Preservationists rely on City Hall’s Landmark and Structure of Merit designations to keep landowners from tearing down or altering historically significant buildings.

Under the proposed ordinance, modifications to the height standards would only be authorized if a Landmark or Structure of Merit was being preserved. As a result two height modification allowances would be established.

This would allow developers to do more if they are saving old, significant buildings within certain boundaries.

Existing hotels

The current ordinance prohibits hotels in certain residential neighborhoods but does allow those in existence prior to 1995 to continue their service.

“This provision allows such existing hotels to remain and be rebuilt or expand consistent with the governing development standards,” city officials said. “The Draft Zoning Ordinance would change this categorization of existing hotels from permitted to legal non-conforming. As with all legal non-conforming uses, this change would not require these uses to cease operation and such uses would be authorized to be rebuilt if damaged or destroyed through any non-voluntary event.”

This would allow existing hotels to continue to operate but would halt intensification or expansion, city officials said.

dave@smdp.com

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