Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

City Officials, Residents Plan Future of Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood

Downtown Meeting June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

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

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 6, 2016 -- An important process for Santa Monica’s most culturally diverse neighborhood began last week when the Planning Commission had an initial discussion about the Pico Neighborhood Plan -- a document that will establish regulations and goals for the area.

U.S. Census and City documents show the Pico Neighborhood with a population of approximately 8,200, is a diverse area with a higher percentage of people who identify as Hispanic (39 percent) and African-American (13 percent) than the city as a whole.

It also has a higher percentage of young people. And it is a neighborhood with challenges.

The City’s Wellbeing Project shows the Pico Neighborhood has Santa Monica’s lowest rates in the categories of “life satisfaction," ”flourishing” and “having time to do things they enjoy.”

There are also the threats of increased housing prices and the worries about displacement.

“Residents are concerned about the erosion of their community, and they’re concerned about the lack of connection they have with their neighbors, the lack of trust,” Planner Peter James told the commission.

Creating the document will include a series of community meetings and other forms of outreach. Eventually it will go before the Planning Commission and later the City Council for review. Approval is projected for next summer.

Maria Loya, a member of the Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) board and longtime area activist, told the commission that the PNA’s primary goal “is to ensure that we put in place zoning rules that will protect the character and the scale of the Pico Neighborhood”

“We’re already experiencing the impact of the light rail, the impact of increasing market pressures,” Loya said.

The PNA wants a special zoning district declared for the neighborhood that would include regulations specific to the area.

There are other examples of zoning districts in Santa Monica, and City officials say the creation of a Pico Neighborhood zoning district is a possibility.

Loya talked about some situations that she said are examples of how current Citywide zoning standards negatively affect the Pico Neighborhood. She noted the Whole Foods under development across the street from Virginia Park.

“We don’t feel Whole Foods is going to serve the needs of our residents,” Loya said. “Many of them aren't’ going to be able to afford to go to Whole Foods. Yet they have to bear the burden of the traffic and everything else that’s going to come with that.”

What will need to be addressed, too, is specifically what is the Pico Neighborhood.

The City defines its boundaries as the I-10 Freeway (north), Pico Boulevard (south), one block east of Lincoln Boulevard (west) and Centinela Avenue (east) with some other areas included.

The PNA oversees a greater portion of Santa Monica that includes portions of the downtown and Mid-City neighborhoods.

Commissioners offered various opinions at the meeting, which was conducted in an informal fashion since nothing was being finalized or even approved in concept.

Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy warned against the dangers of incentives for business construction.

“We have to make sure that we don’t tip those business incentives to the point that on the boulevards it becomes possible to put in the kinds of businesses where a glass of wine is 21 dollars and the cheapest meal on the menu is 32 dollars,” she said.

Commissioner Amy Anderson said, “I would urge the City to invest as much if not more energy into trying to think about tools for maintaining cultural richness."

City Planner James said on the subject of some negative issues the Pico Neighborhood is trying to overcome that they will have to be addressed in many ways.

"Our perspective, right or wrong, is that a lot of the issues that have been brought forward that Pico’s dealing with will not be resolved entirely by zoning,” he said.

But he added that the area could benefit from “a very unique set of regulations that are hand-crafted for the Pico Neighborhood.”

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2016 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures