Editor’s note: This is the first 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.
City Council Chambers might look like a Twilight Concert Series show Tuesday night.
Council will discuss the new proposed Zoning Ordinance, which will dictate land uses throughout the city for years to come. In anticipation of the high public turnout, city officials have scheduled a second meeting on Wednesday. It’s expected that public comment will last the majority of the Tuesday meeting, leaving time for council to discuss on Wednesday.
The Planning Commission has been discussing the ordinance for months and the city officials say that there are 14 issues that have been discussed the most.
Child and day care
Much time was spent at the Planning Commission discussing the location and regulations for family day care, childcare, and early education centers.
State laws keep City Hall from regulating small family childcare homes — those homes providing care for up to six kids.
Large family childcare homes, which provide care for up to 12 kids, must be allowed in residential areas but can be regulated locally in certain areas. As it’s currently proposed, the draft ordinance requires large family child care centers to be at least 300 feet from one another and restrict outdoor play to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. These same hours would be in place for Early Education Facilities. These facilities would be prohibited in two specific zoning districts.
City officials say this is inconsistent with City Hall’s commitment to early childhood education as well as a previous zoning document.
They say that weekday hours should be extended to 8 p.m. and that concentration limits should be ratcheted back to 100 feet.
Finally, they don’t want the neighborhood restrictions, claiming that different zoning restrictions would keep things from getting out of hand.
Medical marijuana dispensaries
Despite the plethora of options in the surrounding municipalities, Santa Monica has never been zoned to allow medical pot shops. Most of the Planning Commission supported the inclusion of two shops in the new code. The Police Department and the city officials had opposed that inclusion, noting that residents could simply order delivery on a service like WeedMaps.com and claiming that dispensaries lead to more crime.
The ordinance, as it stands, would allow two shops within to specific parts of the city.
Council will consider changing residential density in some neighborhoods.
“Presently, the maximum number of dwelling units allowed on any site is determined by dividing the area of the site, including half the area of an abutting rear alley, by the number of square feet for each dwelling unit that is required in the zoning district in which the site is located,” city officials said.
Under the new ordinance, some districts would not use that portion of the alley to calculate the site area.
“This recommendation responds to community concern regarding residential density, and would be further reinforced by the establishment of density caps,” city officials said in the report.