Local Coastal Plan Update

LCP Land Use Plan Update is in the Works!

The City anticipates releasing a draft of the LCP Land Use Plan in spring 2017. The Local Coastal Program team has been engaging the community at every step of the LCP update process. Over the past year, the LCP has held two workshops, given presentations to a variety of boards, commissions, and community groups, and held creative, joint outreach campaigns with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, GoSaMo, and the Audubon Society. Summaries of our Pier travel mode survey, our visit to the Western Snowy Plover protective exclosure, and a video of the Sea Level Rise Workshop are in the column to the right under Additional Information. For more detail on the outreach we've done, and links to public hearings that have been held, scroll to the bottom of this page. 

Between October 2016 and January 2017, the City installed a virtual reality viewfinder on the Santa Monica Pier (The Owl on the Pier). Through the Owl, and the mobile app version (the Pocket Owl), over 11,000 people experienced and shared their concerns about various sea level rise scenarios. They also provided opinions on a potential adaptation strategy based on recreating dunes as a "soft" protective measure. Click here to read the summary report. 


Why is the City updating the Local Coastal Program now?

The 1992 LCP Land Use Plan no longer reflects the physical and policy environment of 2016 Santa Monica.  New public buildings in the Civic Center; Tongva Park and the Village; Downtown pedestrian, bike and transit enhancements; renewed activity on the Pier; the Annenberg Beach House; the Expo Terminus Station and the Colorado Esplanade are some of the most significant changes that have occurred since the last LCP was certified. The General Plan Land Use & Circulation Element (LUCE), along with City-adopted specific plans and action plans have introduced progressive policies that foster movement into and around the Coastal Zone by providing a variety of choices, thereby reducing vehicle trips and parking demand, relieving congestion and promoting clean air.

Coastal Zone

In 2016, the Expo Light Rail opened, changing the access dynamics for residents, employees and visitors to the city's coastline and Pier. With more emphasis on transportation options like transit and bicycle access, and the City's investment in pedestrian networks and parks, Santa Monica hopes to reduce its dependence on large parking areas while providing more amenities to help people enjoy the beach.

At the same time, City planners are reviewing recently released results of new, sophisticated models that forecast and describe the range of possible outcomes due to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns with intensifying storm patterns.  The new data are informing a policy discussion on ways that the City can anticipate and potentially mitigate sea level rise impacts on coastal assets.

It is time to adopt new standards and criteria so that coastal development review will reflect and be guided by policies that foster a more sustainable future.

Currently, all development projects and city plans and plan amendments that are located within the City’s Coastal Zone (see map below) require dual permitting processes.  First, all approvals must be obtained from the City of Santa Monica.  Following this, and prior to building permit issuance, application must also be made to the California Coastal Commission (CCC).   The CCC’s authority is vested in the 1976 State Coastal Act, which was enacted to conserve and protect the California coast. The Local Coastal Plan Update will allow the transfer of coastal development permitting rights from the California Coastal Commission to the City of Santa Monica.

The Local Coastal Program is made up of two documents: the Land use Plan and the Implementation Plan. The Land Use Plan (LUP) outlines conditions, objectives and policies for the Coastal Zone, while the Implementation Plan (IP) is an ordinance containing specific regulations to implement these policies. In 1992, the City Council approved a LUP, but it received only partial certification from the CCC, excluding some sub-districts. The CCC declined to certify an IP, citing concern over the 1990 voter-approved Proposition S, which established the Beach Overlay Zone, in which hotel and restaurant development are restricted.  This outcome brought the process to a standstill. Without a fully certified LCP, coastal review authority has remained in the CCC’s jurisdiction.

25 years have passed since the last LCP effort.  In this time, there have been many improvements to the beach area, including a revival of the Landmark Santa Monica Pier with additional dining, entertainment and retail offerings; enhancement of the beach bike path; new, modernized restroom facilities; and the opening of the Annenberg Community Beach House.  Santa Monica continues to provide a diverse array of enjoyable, low-cost recreational activities to residents and visitors alike. Both the City and CCC are now interested in achieving local authorization to issue coastal permits.  With a certified Local Coastal Program that reflects sustainable City policies and practices and protects the coast in accordance with the State Coastal Act, great strides can be made toward securing Santa Monica’s future as one of California’s most enjoyable and popular beach destinations.


Sm Pier

Image Source: Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

Project Focus

Past State policy required the LUP to emphasize beach and Pier parking as the accepted means to guarantee public access to the coast. With new transit options, like the Expo Line and Breeze Bike Share, and with the development of a large Downtown parking reservoir and an improved pedestrian network, beach parking is no longer the only or even the most desirable option for beach visitors.  Providing infrastructure, facilities and establishing appropriate land uses that prioritize walking, biking and using public transportation can also provide a convenient way to visit the beach and Pier. Nevertheless, existing beach parking will remain and access for those with limited physical abilities will always be ensured.  The new LCP will include objectives for each sub-area that maintain the character of the coastal zone and build on the City’s changing conditions and policies regarding prioritizing sustainability and multi-modal transportation options.

The CCC will also require the LCP to contain strategies and regulations that address the latest scientifically-developed forecasts for sea level rise and storm event impacts along the Santa Monica coastline.  These regulations have important implications for the future land uses that the City will allow or the ability to rebuild in case of severe damage from storm events should the forecast indicate that such events will become common and that rebuilding is not prudent.  The LCP Land Use Plan will include new sections that discuss risk and mitigation and will establish regulations based on preparing for future changes and protecting critical infrastructure, water quality, and the community’s valued resources.


Community Outreach

Whether for employment, recreation, or residence, everyone in the Santa Monica community has a strong connection to the activities that occur in the Coastal Zone. The City understands that each member of the community can provide a unique perspective on how the coastal zone is used, accessed, and cherished.  Since this plan is written to maintain and expand the public’s use of the coast, community input in the planning process is vital to its success.

Public outreach in 2016-17 focused on:

  • How the LCP impacts processes that affect residents, property owners and businesses within the Coastal Zone;
  • Interpreting and explaining future coastline scenarios in a changing climate with different patterns of storm events and a higher shoreline, as well as potential strategies to protect coastal assets;
  • Understanding travel patterns and how to encourage more transit, biking and walking to and within the coastal area;
  • Protecting the Snowy Plover, an endangered bird species that nests on Santa Monica beach;
  • Connections with the current planning process to create the Downtown Specific Plan;
  • Providing an interactive experience to understand how sea level rise will affect the beach through a rising tide line and powerful coastal storms through the Owl on the Pier installation.

For more information and to receive emails about future meetings and events, please email Liz Bar-El, AICP, Senior Planner at Liz.Bar-El@smgov.net or Cary Fukui, Assistant Planner at Cary.Fukui@smgov.net.

LCP Project Timeline

January to April 2016:

 Community Outreach Phase I

April to August 2016:

 Prepare the Policy Outline Memo

September to November 2016

 Release Policy Outline Memo (staff report) and hold Commission/Council study sessions

August/September 2017:


 Release Public Draft

September/October 2017:

 PC Recommendation Hearing

November/December 2017

 City Council Adoption Hearing

Following Council Adoption:

 Submit LUP to CCC for Certification and  Begin IP Preparation


Workshops & Milestones

Sun Oct 16, 2016

A Walk with Western Snowy Plovers

The City of Santa Monica and the Audubon Society held a walking tour to see and learn about the Western Snowy Plovers living right here on the Santa Monica Beach. If you missed the tour, check out the summary below.

Wed Oct 05, 2016

Planning Commission Update

Staff presented an update on the Local Coastal Program on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016. The presentation included a progress report and overview of the broad policy direction in the LCP Update.

Wed Apr 13, 2016

Workshop #2: Adapting to a Changing Coastline

The second LCP community workshop was held on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Over 60 community members turned out to participate and learn about sea level rise and climate change in Santa Monica. Below you may download the full presentation and view a summary of the workshop.

Mon Feb 29, 2016

Workshop #1: Santa Monica's Coastal Area in the 21st Century

The community workshop was held on Monday, February 29th, 2016 from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Over 50 community members turned out to participate and learn about the Local Coastal Plan Update process.

Wed Jan 06, 2016

Planning Commission Update

Staff presented an update on the Local Coastal Program on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016. The presentation reviewed information regarding the timeline, scope, and work completed to date on the Local Coastal Plan Update.


Elizabeth Bar-El AICP, Senior Planner

(310) 458-8341


Additional Information



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