LCP Coastal Zoning Ordinance
Implementing the LCP Land Use Plan
In October 2018, the City Council adopted the Land Use Plan (LUP) for the Santa Monica Coastal Zone/ It is currently pending certification (anticipated in January 2020). City Planning has begun work on two projects for the Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan (IP): the Coastal Zoning Ordinance (CZO) and the Low-Cost Lodging (LCL) Fee Update.
A New Zoning Ordinance for the Coastal Zone
Based upon the existing Zoning Ordinance, the CZO will be a new section of the Municipal Code establishing zoning rules for all properties located in the coastal zone. It will implement specific coastal policies through development standards and conditions that will be contained in Coastal Development Permits (CDP), which the City will issue once the CZO is certified. For example, CDPs will include conditions for proposed projects in sea level rise hazard zones, special environmental protection requirements, beach access provisions and restrictions for projects within identified view corridors and vantage point viewsheds.
What does a Fully-Certified LCP mean for the City?
With a certified CZO, residents and businesses in most of the coastal zone will no longer apply to the Coastal Commission for CDP approvals and waivers. Instead, this review will be integrated with the City Planning application process. It is not anticipated that development of the CZO will significantly change development standards contained in the existing Zoning Ordinance. The CZO will mainly integrate coastal policies with current zoning policies and standards and remain consistent with the Civic Center Specific Plan and the Downtown Community Plan. In the most sensitive areas near the coastline and bluffs, the Coastal Commission will retain CDP authority or serve as an appeals body for certain City-issued CDPs.
Timeline: Two to three-year project.
Low Cost Lodging Fee
Another component of the Implementation Plan requires the City to update its Low-Cost Lodging Mitigation Fee, which was adopted on February 20, 1990. Although the fee has been adjusted based on CPI and changes in land value, it has not kept up with the cost of building low-cost lodging in Santa Monica's Coastal Zone. The City has contracted with Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS), a consulting firm specializing in fee analysis and feasibility studies, in order to propose a fee formula that reflects the real cost of developing low-cost lodging and also studies the feasibility of an updated fee on new hotel development. The fee requires the City Council's approval, tentatively scheduled for hearing in the 1st Quarter of 2020.
Why a Low-Cost Lodging Fee?
The Low-Cost Lodging Fee is one way that the Coastal Commission implements the California Coastal Act policy to provide low-cost lodging where feasible. The City's 1990 ordinance was adopted in an effort to mitigate the loss of low-cost lodging opportunities in Santa Monica's Coastal Zone, applying to new developments replacing low-cost lodging with moderate- and high-cost lodging without providing low-cost units on-site. In the past, the funds generated supported the expansion of the Hosteling International Hostel on 2nd Street in Downtown Santa Monica.
Over the past few years, the Coastal Commission has augmented the policies related to low-cost lodging in an effort to address the increasing lack of affordable coastal lodging to more California residents and visitors. The Commission has imposed affordable lodging requirements on hotel developments in several locations across the state. The City's LCP Land Use Plan includes a policy for projects that would expand the applicability of the fee to the redevelopment of existing hotels that would be required to provide low-cost lodging on-site or pay this fee.
For More Information
City Staff and EPS gave a presentation to hotel and other local business representatives on October 28th, 2019. The presentation is posted below (see Milestones). For further information, please email Liz.Bar-El@smgov.net.
The new Coastal Zoning Ordinance will regulate development in the Coastal Zone in accordance with the core principles of the Coastal Act: coastal protection, access, and recreation for all. The adopted LUP can be downloaded from the right-hand column of this page.
This work is made possible by an LCP planning grant from the Coastal Commission.