The Downtown Community Plan will have its last public hearing on Tuesday during the July 25 City Council Meeting.

The zoning document will guide development in the Downtown area between Wilshire, the freeway, Lincoln and the beach. While Council has already revised zoning rules throughout the city, Downtown was specifically excluded from the citywide standards to allow for an area specific plan.

Council held two days of discussion earlier this month that included options for revising some sections of the plan and a request for the final version to return this week.

In the final document, Council has chosen to preserve three sites that could exceed the design standards set by the DCP. The Plan makes no ruling on what can be built at 1133 Ocean Ave, 101 Santa Monica Blvd. and 4th/5th and Arizona, but it does allow projects at those sites to apply for height limits of up to 130 feet. Outside the three zones, heights are generally limited to 84 feet.

The DCP subdivides Downtown into several small districts and the revised DCP allows office use on the ground floor within the Neighborhood Village district (Broadway to Wilshire and 5th to 7th).

Housing construction has been streamlined to an administrative approval for projects up to 75,000 square feet, density has been increased for the Neighborhood Village area and individual projects are required to produce affordable housing instead of averaging affordable housing production across the entire city. Affordable housing requirements vary from 20 – 35 percent depending on the project size and if the housing is onsite or offsite.

Projects that are 100 percent affordable housing will have streamlined permitting regardless of size and will have height/density bonuses.

Commercial projects will be subject to administrative approval up to 10,000 square feet which staff say will incentivize housing production.

Parking minimums will be eliminated from the Downtown and the rules have been revised to allow construction of replacement public parking before existing parking is removed.

The plan calls for exploring ways to establish a preference for Santa Monica workers/residents in market rate housing, looking for ways to stabilize rents in middle-income households and finding ways to accommodate artists within ground floor residential units.

Council asked for three specific discussions to be included at the upcoming meeting: incentivizing low cost hotels, accommodating the Boys and Girls Club’s concerns about their potential remodel and answering issues related to a property at 201 Wilshire Blvd.

Staff are recommending possible regulatory incentives to encourage affordable overnight accommodation and a commitment to bringing services downtown that benefit a broad swath of people.

The staff report does not recommend exempting the Boys and Girls Club from the review process but does suggest legally-established, youth serving nonprofits that want to expand their facilities could be subject to administrative approval up to 25,000 square feet and with at Development Review Permit beyond that. Staff said specific language could be added to the DCP directing the City to collaborate with the Boys and Girls club to overcome obstacles to their renovation.

The project at 201 Wilshire is requesting additional height and density bonuses on the grounds it doesn’t abut residential properties. Staff said it’s possible to include narrowly worded language that could facilitate a denser project at that site for a housing project.

Council will meet on July 25 in City Hall, 1685 Main St. Closed session begins at 4:30 and open session will not begin before 5:30 p.m.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...