Santa Monica Lookout
|Residents Pack Hearing on Santa Monica's Zoning Ordinance|
By Hector Gonzalez
As promised by Mayor Kevin McKeown, everyone who filled out a card got a chance to speak.
He opened by explaining some ground rules for the Council -- unlike a typical public hearing members were free to comment -- and reminding residents they'll have another chance to speak at a public hearing May 5, when the Zoning Ordinance will be introduced to the Council for a first reading, the last step before it's formally adopted as law.
Martin added that the draft eliminates duplications and contradictions between the 26-year-old Zoning Ordinance and the often-amended LUCE adopted in 2010.
The revised LUCE also establishes a Tier Two review process for future development that will replace the City's cumbersome Development Agreement process for developers who request code exemptions, said Martin. More than 30 such agreements “are in the pipeline” awaiting review, he added.
Tier Two applicants would pay the City certain fees and would be required to add affordable housing to their projects, said Martin.
Some residents supported that change, arguing it would speed up construction of badly needed affordable housing, but others said it will permanently codify high-rise, high-density projects, increase traffic congestion and add other burdens to neighborhoods.
Most of the concerns from the residents' groups centered on proposals addressing development on Santa Monica's main transit corridors and around the City's new Expo Light Rail Line stations and how they will impact adjacent neighborhoods.
Residents groups including SMART and Residocracy, a citywide movement that sprang up online, and most of the traditional neighborhood-based associations oppose either parts or all of the proposed LUCE.
“I'm an angry resident,” said Laura Wilson, who lives next to a new hotel. “I'm angry because I'm experiencing what happens to you when commercial moves next to your house.
“I'm really upset about it. I just want you to know if you do what you did to me to the other residents, you're going to have a thousand angry residents like me on your hands.”
Some residents complained that the draft encourages “cookie-cutter” projects; others that it lacks sufficient incentives for affordable housing and ignores green spaces.
“As fashion, we're the artistic boutique that doesn't want to be a chain,” said Phil Brock. “As people, we want to stand apart, not blend in.
“We can add housing in Santa Monica without adopting the tall buildings of downtown L.A. or Westwood. Our buildings should be lower, more comfortable, with terrace design, incorporate space and green areas.”
Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) co-chair Oscar de la Torre, the night's 100th speaker, asked the Council to consider the group's plan for an overlay district for the Pico Neighborhood. Other (PNA) members spoke about the need to preserve housing for the neighborhood's very low-income residents.
Opinions were also split on the draft's proposals for where day care centers will be allowed and also on its inclusion of two proposed medicinal marijuana dispensaries on Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards, which would be the City's first.
“No, we are not fearful and scared whack-a-doodles,” she said.
“I'm concerned about the recent negative response of some neighborhood groups and extreme citizens' organizations which present themselves as representatives of the population as a whole,” said Dwight Flowers. “Nothing could be further from the truth,”
Andrew Moyer said the debate has caused “people I call friends to write on social media things that are downright mean to each other.”
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2015 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.||Disclosures|