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Revised Downtown Santa Monica Plan Set for Friday Release

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 11, 2016 -- In response to criticism, City staff has created a shorter and more readable version of the document that will guide planning in Downtown Santa Monica. It will even have a new name when it is released in updated form on Friday.

Formerly called the Downtown Specific Plan, it is now known as the Downtown Community Plan.

Planning Director David Martin told the City Council on Tuesday that the new name reflects that the document “focuses on the community and how [the downtown] is the living room for the city.”

After a couple years of planning, the original draft document was released two years ago. Public review followed, including community meetings and workshops.

The Planning Commission held several lengthy hearings on the document last year, with several commissioners criticizing the plan for containing too many pages.

“We heard the previous plan was long and difficult to get through, so we’ve cut about 100 pages out of it,” said Martin, who added that chapters have been consolidated and improvements were made to the layout and visual presentation.

This document, which must be finalized by the City Council to go into effect, addresses various issues about the future of this part of Santa Monica that is known worldwide for its tourism features, but is also home to the many people who reside in the more than 2,500 housing units.

That housing number is expected to expand further, with an independent analysis from consultant Robert Charles Lesser and Co. determining as many as 2,000 new apartments an up to 500 new condos will be needed in the next 15 years to meet the area's housing demand.

Also, nearly 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurants will be needed in the coming years to meet increased tourism demands, City officials said last year.

Three versions of the revised document will be released on Friday, a full one with graphics and charts, a shorter one with just the text and a red-line version for those who want to see precisely what was removed and changed from the previous edition.

The draft environmental impact report was released last week and can be found on the City’s website.

Certain elements of the plan are not being revised, a statement on the City’s website says.

“These include items where majority support has been identified, and sound standards have been vetted through the public hearing process,” the statement says.

It continues, “While all chapters will be revised, the overall vision for the downtown to evolve into a more complete and transit-oriented neighborhood will remain the same.”

Community events, including focus groups, and neighborhood outreach will take place in the coming months. The Planning Commission will review the revised draft during meetings taking place March 2, 3 and 9.

The Planning Commission is expected to vote on the document in May. Its recommendation will head to the City Council for a final decision in June or July.

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