The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) emphasizes the conservation of Santa Monica’s residential districts with vision and development parameters that are consistent with the maximum envelopes and densities found in the existing Zoning Ordinance. In other words, the LUCE does not increase the permitted heights or number of units currently allowed in existing residential zones, and this is reflected in the Residential Zones Module that includes a discussion of policy issues and the first draft of development standards available for review.
Through its goals and policies, the LUCE places new emphasis on physical character and the compatibility of new and remodeled structures with existing neighborhoods. Based on recommendations heard from Planning Commissioners, Architectural Review Board members, and interviews with Zoning Ordinance users, the draft Zoning Ordinance will include simpler, clearer standards, with more emphasis on design guidelines and the design review process for helping shape the forms of buildings. A first draft of Design Guidelines for multi-family residential zones is also available for download.
The Planning Commission heard a presentation and initial discussion of these standards on September 19, 2012. Multifamily Design Guidelines were discussed on November 7, 2012.
Mixed Use and Commerical Zones
The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) established policies that conserve residential neighborhoods while directing new development and housing to Santa Monica's commercial areas to help integrate land use and transportation, and to create Complete Neighborhoods -- places where residents have access to their daily needs within walking distance.
The new Zoning Ordinance will allow mixed-use development along streets with high levels of transit to help fulfill this vision. The term "mixed-use" traditionally means a building with retail and service uses at the ground level and multifamily housing above, and this is generally what is envisioned in these areas. (The term can also be used to describe any building or group of buildings with multiple land use types.) Putting new housing above and near service and support activities such as groceries, restaurants, bike shops, small personal training gyms, cafes, pharmacies, bus stops, and light rail stations helps foster healthy commercial areas, and the overall health of neighborhoods.
The LUCE calls for the physical environment of these mixed-use areas to be walkable and to support transit, bicycling, and other non-auto forms of transportation. The Zoning Ordinance and design guidelines will help implement this through requirements and guidelines for pedestrian improvements along the street, such as wide sidewalks, plazas, and seating areas, as well as requirements and guidelines for ground-floor uses and design elements that “activate” the street, such as locating buildings adjacent to the sidewalk, transparent storefronts, easily identifiable pedestrian entries, and stoops.
The Planning Commission heard a presentation and discussed these topics on November 28, 2012. The following documents are available to review:
Use Regulations & Classifications
Building on the Uses, Terms, and Definitions and Districting Framework Issue Papers, the Use Regulations and Classifications Module makes initial recommendations for how different types of uses will be classified and regulated in the new Zoning Ordinance.
The Use Regulations and Classifications Module provides comprehensive categorization and use charts for the proposed zoning districts in Santa Monica, and further discusses several important uses, such as:
- Animal Day Care, now a very popular use in most communities;
- Bed and Breakfasts or House Museums, which could be offer an additional incentive for historic preservation; and
- Size thresholds for retail uses—how to promote small businesses and prohibit larger big-box formats.
The Planning Commission heard a presentation on this topic and discussed it on December 19, 2012. The following documents are available for review: