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Balance a Key to Zoning Ordinance

May 31, 1987

Major contradictions between the proposed new zoning ordinance and the land-use element in Santa Monica are a cause of serious concern. The purpose of the zoning ordinance is to implement the land-use element, which was passed unanimously by the Santa Monica City Council when the late Ken Edwards was mayor. The land-use plan was passed after years of work, at least two years of highly publicized hearings and the expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees and city staff time.

It is the hope of those who worked so long and hard on this land-use plan that the new zoning ordinance will uphold the interests of Santa Monica as a whole while endeavoring to be fair to residents, property owners and business operators.

In Santa Monica, the long-term trend to downzone has been accomplished gradually by prior City Councils. In the land-use element, downzoning and increased building restrictions were pushed to the limit of economic reasonableness. The desire to maintain Santa Monica's small-city image must be balanced with the recognition that this is a mature city. To avoid decay and declining revenues the city must offer economic incentives to the private sector to both promote local employment and encourage recycling of economically and physically obsolete buildings. It is imperative that the careful balancing between wishful thinking and economic reason that was hammered out in the land-use element be maintained in the new zoning ordinance.

The guidelines for the size and heights of buildings established in the land-use element should be maintained in the new zoning ordinance. The parking requirements and permit-processing procedures proposed in the new zoning ordinance must be fair and not (be) used as a backdoor method to stop the necessary recycling and revitalization of properties.

To pay its bills and provide services to its residents and visitors, the city depends greatly on revenues produced by commercial and industrial properties. Leaders of Santa Monica responsible for its welfare have to take realistic approaches to the problems of running a city. The new zoning ordinance is no exception. It must implement with fairness the careful balances worked out in the land-use element so that Santa Monica can achieve a workable, fiscally sound long-range plan that promotes an attractive, prosperous city.

This is the task of the City Council.




Executive Director, Commercial and Industrial Properties Assn. of Santa Monica

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