Downtown Santa Monica (File photo)




It will be a big night for City Hall at the Nov. 16 Planning Commission meeting with discussions focused on the proposed addition to City Hall and a review of the proposed zoning changes for Downtown Santa Monica.

City Services Building

A five-member Commission was unable to come to a decision about the proposed City Hall expansion at their Nov. 1 meeting and the item was continued with the hope that issues could be resolved without jeopardizing the project’s timeline.

The City wants to build a three-story, 45-foot tall building at the rear of the current City Hall. As proposed it is three-stories plus a basement for a total floor area of 50,200 square feet and is being built to one of the highest sustainability levels possible.

At the Nov. 1 meeting, at least two commissioners were uncomfortable with the design of the building and initially voted against the project. After additional discussion, the project was continued to allow time for staff to present additional information. In addition to reviewing the building itself, the commission needs to approve a change to the current Civic Center Plan as the existing document calls for the building to be built on Main Street, not behind City Hall.

If the project is not approved on Nov. 16 the appeals and/or revision process could push approval into early 2017 and staff have said the entire project would need a substantial, and costly, redesign to meet new codes that come into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Downtown Community Plan

It’s taken five years to develop three versions of a new zoning document for Downtown Santa Monica and the Downtown Community Plan is now heading into its final round of revisions starting with a presentation at Planning Commission on Nov. 16.

Staff will ask the Commission to provide feedback on several issues based on the last round of community input that included a new website, 32 public meetings, three workshops, focus groups, and online survey and downtown walking tours.

“This conversation has touched thousands of individuals from all walks of life who live, work or visit the Downtown, and who have expressed a diverse range of opinions or perspectives on its evolution as the historic crossroads of community, culture and commerce,” said the staff report.

The DCP covers 229 acres bordered by Wilshire, the Freeway, Lincoln Blvd., and Ocean Ave. In addition to providing rules for height and density, the plan covers cultural arts offerings, open space, traffic, congestion, pedestrian safety and transit options.

According to the staff report, the last version of the plan met with mixed results. Efforts to increase historic preservation met with public approval but increased development standards were criticized.

Several minor revisions will be proposed Wednesday including improved detail, clarifications on standards/guidelines, revised parking requirements, improved visuals and updated references.

Major revisions include expanding preservation options by expanding the Bayside Conservation District, reducing height in that district to 60 feet, establish a new conservation overlay in zoning documents, limit tenant size in existing buildings, reduce the Development Agreement threshold to 60,000 square feet for mixed use projects, modify the mixed use standards on Lincoln, study fee increases, encourage ridesharing/autonomous vehicles and increase transit options.

The Planning Commission will meet on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St. For more information, visit