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Ocean Park Trend of Turning “Eclectic” Homes into Condos Prompts Call for Restrictions

Downtown Plan Banner

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes

Staff Writer

August 10, 2016 -- Ocean Park, one of Santa Monica’s oldest neighborhoods, is in danger of losing its charm as new condominium units start replacing “eclectic” single-family homes and duplexes, City planners are warning.

Santa Monica’s elaborate new zoning update was written in part to specifically avert the takeover of homes and duplexes by multi-unit residential buildings.

But the zoning update –- which went into effect in July of 2015 -- isn’t working to the extent intended, according to a report sent to the City Planning Commission for its August 2 meeting.

Tract maps for three units of housing are being submitted to replace existing homes or duplexes in the oceanfront neighborhood on the city's south side, according to the report by City planners Tony Kim and Ariel Socarras.

Under the zoning law, those projects are not subject to control or review by the City Planning Commission, the report said. They also are small enough to skirt the City’s requirement of providing on- or off-site affordable housing, it added.

“The Affordable Housing Production Program has on- or off-site affordable housing requirements for for-sale condominiums if the project proposes 4 units or more,” the planners said.

“The recent prevalence of 3-unit condos is likely based on the ability for those projects to pay an affordable housing fee, instead of constructing units.”

They said the concern “is that 3-unit tract maps are changing the character of Ocean Park (but could be doing so elsewhere as well) from eclectic single-family homes to similar-looking multi-unit structures.”

The trend reverses the purpose of establishing maximum density in residential districts, which was “intended to ensure that property owners have the ability to redevelop their property without affecting the character of surrounding neighborhoods,” the report said.

City officials are exploring ways to stop the trend from expanding, possibly with more changes to the zoning law.

Since approving the new zoning law, planning staff members have been scrambling to correct errors, inconsistencies and omissions, officials said. Those required only minor clerical work.

But the report notes that issues such as the condo trend in Ocean Park also started surfacing and will require more analysis and discussion.

Although housing in Santa Monica is predominately rental, Ocean Park is known as an appealing (and expensive) blend of older, smaller single-family homes, apartments, condos and large homes near the beach.

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