It’s slim pickings for agenda items at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting but at least one item should whet your appetite for planning news.

Only three items will be before the group Tuesday: a variance to build a new home at 411 Ocean Park Blvd, a proposal to modify local laws as required by state rules and the creation of a new land use category for food halls in the city.

The 2,949 square foot home will be before the Commission as builders are asking to reduce the front yard setback, reduce the rear yard setback and increase total parcel coverage. Staff are recommending approval of the home and requests.

City planners are also proposing an update to existing rules to create a new classification for “Food Halls.”

While residents might think of the classic food court in the mall or the upscale cluster of restaurants on the Promenade, the rules will allow for a category that is more flexible than existing projects.

“The characteristics of food halls differ in certain ways from the typical restaurants and eating establishments that the Zoning Ordinance already defines and allow in commercial districts based on various processes,” said the staff report. “A food hall typically consists of multiple businesses that share seating, both indoor and outdoor, with a variety of service operation types. As such, they do not qualify to be permitted as restaurants based on the Code’s definition of that use, necessitating the introduction of food halls as a distinct and defined land use classification.”

Planners said new Food Halls could combine food with education, retail or entertainment purposes. Proposed establishments would have to contain three or more individual businesses in an area where food can be served (that can include retail). Traits could include shared entry ways, shared food prep facilities, shared restrooms and communal access to indoor/outdoor spaces.

Staff are recommending the halls be regulated with conditional use permits to allow the Planning Commission to review each request individually as the kind of proposals are expected to differ as the industry emerges.

According to staff the need for the new use category emerged during discussions around several other topics and the proposal before the Commission will be to add the new use city-wide including specific zoning plans such as Bergamot and Pico.

The final item of the night is expected to be a bifurcated discussion. Civic meetings have been temporarily relocated from City Hall due to construction and the Planning Commission will be meeting at the Ken Edwards Center. The room has a 9 p.m. curfew and staff said they expect to present a staff report on modifying local rules for child care centers but action will likely be postponed to the next meeting.

The Planning Commission will meet on Wednesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 4th Street.

editor@smdp.com

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