Santa Monica officials have published a zoning plan that calls for a special Main Street hotel district, tougher development guidelines and the rezoning of 1,500 commercial and industrial land parcels throughout the city.
The "Proposed Comprehensive Land-Use and Zoning Ordinance" was released by the city this week. Suzanne Frick, Santa Monica's acting principal planner, said the proposal touches nearly all of the city's 15,000 parcels of land.
City Manager John Jalili said he expects the proposal to get mixed reviews. "I'm sure there will be some people impacted who will be concerned," Jalili said. "But a lot of these issues have already been aired, and to that extent it's going to be a lot simpler than a brand new ordinance."
Offshoot of Plan
The proposed ordinance is an offshoot of the city's land-use plan, which was adopted in October, 1984. It translates land-use and development policy into specific regulations and acts as law once it is adopted.
Council members were still reviewing the plan this week. But Mayor Christine E. Reed said she expects several changes before the council casts its final vote. "The areas that should be of concern are the definitions that tell what we're doing . . . and what's allowed," Reed said. "I think the process will take at least until the end of the summer."
Councilman Dennis Zane agreed. He said the planning staff "is moving in the right direction," but added that he expects revisions.
The plan divides the city into about 10 commercial, industrial and residential districts. Special districts would include the Main Street area, the beachfront between Pico Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, the downtown area, Santa Monica Boulevard, the eastern industrial corridor between Colorado and Olympic boulevards and the Civic Center area near City Hall.
The Main Street proposal would change the existing ordinance that limits hotel construction. It would allow hotels and hostels anywhere along Main Street and would permit more than two restaurants per block with special city approval.
The beachfront area between Pico and Colorado would be designated for residential and some commercial use. Outdoor cafes, restaurants with alcohol permits and multiple-unit residential construction would be permitted. The city also would permit special art displays and sales.
The stretch of Broadway from Lincoln Boulevard to 19th Court would allow both residential and commercial uses. Convenience stores and other services would be permitted, but most of the area would be zoned residential.
The Civic Center District would have interim height limits of three stories until the city completes a study of the Civic Auditorium.
The Downtown Commercial District would be expanded and would take in streets surrounding the downtown area. And the area along Santa Monica Boulevard would be declared a Highway Commercial District.
Auto dealerships in that area would still be allowed to build as high as 54 feet, but only with special permission from the city. That represents a change from the rules that applied when the city approved the controversial Kramer Motors Auto Dealership expansion.
The city's zoning proposal also includes other suggestions that vary from the policy laid out in the land-use plan, and those areas are expected to be among the most controversial.
In one example, the plan calls for new guidelines for calculating floor space in developments. Floor space is one of the ways a building's size is defined. Under the new formula, underground levels would be counted as floor space if some form of activity takes place there. Underground parking levels would not be included. Current city regulations do not take underground levels into account when floor space is measured.
Vince Muselli, president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, said he expects the floor-space plan to be opposed by developers, especially those who use underground levels as extra space in their buildings.
No Official Position
"It directly impacts projects and I think it could impact a project's feasibility," Muselli said. "I don't have an official chamber position yet, but anything that is a variance from what was originally contained in the land-use plan will be closely looked at by the chamber."
Developers would also be required to provide more parking.
With regard to residential zoning, the plan allows a second house on a single-family lot. Certified day care centers and residential-care facilities can also be located in single-family zoned areas.
The plan also calls for limiting a home's lot coverage to 50% and for deep setbacks for homes that are taller than 25 feet.