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.
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.
Image Source: Santa Monica Travel and Tourism
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.
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
Release Public Draft
PC Recommendation Hearing
City Council Adoption Hearing
Following Council Adoption:
Submit LUP to CCC for Certification and Begin IP Preparation