The Santa Monica City Council this week extended for one year a moratorium on large commercial developments, but vowed to speed up a process of permanently controlling development in the city.
For more than a year, the city has been updating its General Plan in response to the unprecedented surge in commercial growth that began in the latter half of the '80s. City planning staff members were seeking a two-year extension of the moratorium, which was imposed in mid-1989, but on Tuesday the council unanimously agreed that one more year was enough.
"The council wanted to create greater discipline in the process to get the work done," said Councilman Dennis Zane.
The moratorium will exempt the construction of public facilities and development at Third Street Promenade, the airport and the pier.
Some small developments are exempt from the moratorium, but the council reduced by about 33% the allowable size of projects that would qualify for exemptions. In a typical commercial neighborhood, for example, the largest allowable office building would be 15,000 square feet under the revised emergency ordinance, down from 22,000 square feet.
At Tuesday's meeting, developers, council members and representatives of the Santa Monica Area Chamber of Commerce all criticized city staff for moving so slowly to update the General Plan.