City Council will consider a bunch of intersections previously envisioned for taller and higher density developments at its meeting on Tuesday.
The activities centers, as they’re called in the Land Use and Circulation Element, were a center of debate throughout the creation of the Zoning Ordinance Update, which will dictate land uses throughout the city for years to come.
While the new Zoning Ordinance is up for final adoption on Tuesday, the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), which was adopted in 2010, will be considered for amendments.
Council and the Planning Commission have gone back and forth on the fate of the activity centers, which were envisioned to exist in areas flush with public transit.
Council first voted to remove activity centers envisioned for an area near Lincoln and Ocean Park boulevards and for an area near Broadway and 20th Street.
Then, at the end of last month, council voted to reconsider development standards in the area around the latter activity center.
Councilmember Ted Winterer suggested that perhaps council could consider allowing Tier 3 residential development while blocking Tier 3 commercial development in the area.
On June 3, however, the Planning Commission, which is appointed by City Council, recommended against the removal of both activity centers.
“Specifically, some Commissioners expressed concerns with the suburban, auto-oriented development pattern of the existing development at Lincoln/Ocean Park,” city planners said a report to council. “Some comments were also expressed indicating that this area represents the business anchor at the western edge of the Sunset Park Neighborhood and therefore allowing the Activity Center Overlay could allow development of a desirable space with uses where community members could gather.”
Commissioners suggested that coming Expo Light Rail stations could make the intersections pedestrian corridors.
Winterer appealed the commission’s decision.
City planners recommend that council upholds that appeal.
Further, they recommend eliminating the activity centers in questions and amending the LUCE map for four specific properties.
If council adopts the Zoning Ordinance update, it will be the end of a multi-year planning process. The Planning Commission discussed the ordinance over the course of more than three-dozen meetings. Over the past few months, council spent hours discussing and listening to public comment about the ordinance. While they agreed on many issues, Councilmembers Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor often agreed with the other five council members. In some instances, on significant issues where the council majority sought lower density and height allowances, Councilmember Gleam Davis also sided with O’Connor and O’Day.
Even with a Zoning Ordinance adoption, there is one thing that could slow or halt the process: A referendum.
Residocracy, which typically opposes significant development projects, warned council that they’d pull a referendum if their demands were not met. As it stands, some were and some weren’t.
The group successfully challenged the Hines development through a referendum last year,
Armen Melkonians, the founder of Residocracy, told the Daily Press last month that they’re also considering a ballot initiative that, if approved, would put all developments greater than a certain height and density, in front of voters.
A referendum would require any group set on challenging the ordinance to collect signatures from 10 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters within a 30 period.
If it’s not challenged, the ordinance will go into effect 30 days after adoption.