Item 9-B (Continued from November 28, 2000 Council meeting)

City Council Meeting: November 28, 2000                                                            Santa Monica, California





TO:                  Mayor and City Council                               


FROM:            City Staff


SUBJECT:     Recommendation to Receive and File the Study of Artist Live/Work and Studio Space in Santa Monica and Strategies to Preserve and Enhance Affordable Artist Housing and Studio Space, and Authorize Staff to Proceed with the Implementation of Key Strategies.





This report summarizes the Study of Artist Live/Work and Studio Space in Santa Monica and Strategies to Preserve and Enhance Affordable Artist Housing and Studio Space (Attachment I) by the project consultant, AMS Planning and Research; and discusses recommendations made in the Study.  It further recommends acceptance of the attached Study and authorization to begin implementation of key strategies. 



Santa Monica has been known as a haven for artists to work and live.  However, skyrocketing real estate prices and rental increases since rent de-control went into full effect have coupled to create a severe shortage of low-cost artist studio and live/work spaces for the large Santa Monica arts community.  Additionally, the sale of the former “Drescherville” artist day-studio complex and the movement of film and video production companies into low-cost studio and office space in Santa Monica’s industrial area have created a shortage of affordable studio space for the City’s artist community.  A 1998 Columbia University study determined that approximately 57% of the artists in Los Angeles County have a gross income of $30,000 or less, making market-rate live/work and day-studio spaces beyond the financial means of the majority of local artists.  In response to this critical need, the City Council requested that staff study the availability of artist live/work and day-studio space in Santa Monica and prepare a report recommending ways to address the needs of the arts community.


The City Council also requested that the feasibility of using sites at the Santa Monica Airport be evaluated for their potential for the development of artist live/work and day-studio spaces.  The scope of the AMS Study was then broadened to include the requested evaluation.


Following a request for proposal process, AMS Planning and Research, with sub-consultant Jennifer Spangler, were selected to: 1) prepare a survey of existing artist live/work/studio spaces; 2) gather input from local artists and developers; 3) create a plan to address the need to preserve existing studios and housing units; and 4) assess the viability of new locations in the future.  An Artist Live/Work/Studio Task Force was assembled by the Santa Monica Arts Commission to provide community input for this Study.  Comprised of artists, developers, architects, and other interested members of the Santa Monica community, the Task Force began meeting in January 1999.  The consultant held two public input sessions in May 1999; one focused on artists and the other focused on developers.  In addition, the consultant interviewed key members of the community, staff and City Council. 


On July 5, 2000, the final draft of the AMS study was accepted by the Artist Live/Work/Studio Task Force.  The Arts Commission accepted the study as well, following a formal presentation made by the consultant on July 10, 2000.  After a full staff review of all Study recommendations by representatives of Resource Management, Planning and Community Development, and Community and Cultural Services, a set of staff recommendations was developed for presentation to the Arts Commission on August 21, 2000.  At that meeting, the Arts Commission became aware of the availability of space at the Santa Monica Airport and a letter was sent to the Chairperson of the Airport Commission requesting that the vacant hanger identified be dedicated to artist day-studio use.  Also on August 21, the Arts Commission made an additional four motions relating to the staff recommendations: 1) that the Council expedite changes to the City’s building code and zoning regulations to support artist live/work spaces; 2) that the Artist Live/Work/Studio Task  Force continue their work for the next two years; 3) that the Council designate one City department to oversee development and preservation of day-studios and live/work; and 4) that the Council select a specific city-owned site to become artist day-studios (Attachment II).


On August 28, 2000, the Airport Commission met to discuss a comprehensive Airport Leasing Policy.  Representatives from the Arts Commission reiterated its request to dedicate additional space at the Santa Monica Airport for artist day-studios.  In response, two members of the Airport Commission were appointed as liaisons to the Arts Commission to study artists’ needs and concerns relating to the proposed Airport Leasing Policy.  These liaisons met with the Artist Live/Work/Studio Task Force on September 11, 2000, forming an ad hoc committee with Task Force members to study the options for the available Airport hangar as well as general airport leasing policies for artists.  On September 18, 2000, this ad hoc committee presented recommendations to the Task Force which then made four recommendations to the Arts Commission.  That same evening, the Arts Commission discussed and refined the Task Force recommendations and forwarded them to City staff and to the Airport Commission for review at its September 25 and October 23 meetings (Attachment III).  The Airport Commission supported several recommendations of the Arts Commission with certain amendments.  These recommendations are detailed in the proposed Airport Leasing Policy, being presented to the city Council concurrently with this report at its November 28 meeting.



The Study of Artist Live/Work and Studio Space in Santa Monica and Strategies to Preserve and Enhance Affordable Artist Housing and Studio Space presents strategies to preserve and enhance affordable artist housing and studio space in Santa Monica.  Research focused on three areas: support for existing facilities; strategies for creation of new affordable day-studios; and strategies for creation of live/work spaces for artists.  “Live/work space” is defined as a living area with artistic studio/work space in a singular unit, “day-studios” as nonresidential studios for artists, and the term “artist” refers to those working in the visual arts and excludes those working in the film and entertainment industries.  The need for affordable rehearsal and performance spaces for performing artists was voiced during the course of this study; however, the unique zoning and code issues, space requirements, and finish levels, such as soundproofing for musicians or sprung floors for dancers, are beyond the scope of this report.


The current conditions facing artists seeking studio space or housing in Santa Monica were analyzed by the consultant.  There were 156 day-studios available in 1998, shrinking by 25% to 117 at the time of the inventory was included in the report.  Since that inventory, an additional eight day-studios have been lost and another 30 in a single facility (Santa Monica Fine Art Studios) are threatened.  Should this day-studio complex close, it would mean a 50% decline in available day-studios since 1998 resulting in a total of only 79 day-studios in Santa Monica.  The shortage in affordable housing for artists mirrors that of affordable housing for the general population. 


Since Sony Music Corporation and Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Inc. located in Santa Monica, there has been a significant increase in the demand for space in the City by the film industry.  In 1996, the City established the Light Manufacturing and Studio District (LMSD) to encourage development of artist live/work and studio projects as well as film and post-production facilities.  Unfortunately, due to the ability of the film-related businesses to pay higher rents, artists and small entrepreneurial businesses are being squeezed out of the market.  The Study states that rents in the LMSD have at least doubled in the past three years.


The Study identifies specific City policies such as those included in the Santa Monica Cultural Arts Master Plan Update and the City’s Zoning Ordinance which express support for the development of artist housing and studio space.  In addition, policies which have created obstacles to that development are identified.


The Study examines development scenarios for both live/work and day-studio facilities. Due to the current high costs of development in Santa Monica, it was determined that private development will not be able to meet existing needs.  Therefore, the primary scenarios resulting in affordable spaces must involve development on publicly-owned land. There are examples of successful municipally funded artist live/work and day-studio developments in which general funds and housing funds have been used under certain conditions.  In Los Angeles, the Skid Row Housing Trust used a combination of state housing funds and Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) funds in the form of loans, as well as tax credits to fund the development of the Produce Hotel, a mixed-use residential facility.  The Goodman artist housing project in San Francisco was developed with local housing funds in an area specifically zoned for artist live/work housing.  The City of Long Beach has used tax-increment housing funds for a loan program dedicated to artists making physical improvements to industrial or commercial space for live/work studios and/or day-studios.  The Santa Fe Art Colony, in downtown Los Angeles, was developed with a low-interest loan from the Los Angeles CRA.  Further assessment will be necessary to determine whether these models would withstand a legal challenge under current law.


After a thorough examination of the study recommendations along with input from the Santa Monica Arts Commission, staff presents the following key strategies that are divided into three categories:

            Immediate  - Recommendations to be implemented during the current fiscal year;


            Medium Range  - recommendations which can be adopted as budget objectives and implementation and begin in Fiscal Year 2001-02;


            Long Range - recommendations which could be implemented after Fiscal Year 2001-02 or when other key factors are in place.


Immediate recommendations

·        Due to the high cost of development in Santa Monica, rents and sale prices are generally prohibitive for artists.  The Study recommends the use of City-owned land to provide affordable developments.  Strategies include incorporation of day-studios in new City facilities, adding day-studios or live/work into master plan efforts, and prioritizing leasing of day-studios at the Santa Monica Airport.  In the short term, one hangar is currently vacant and available at the Santa Monica Airport.  The Santa Monica Arts Commission has recommended that this existing facility be adapted for day-studio usage (under current FAA regulations, live-in studios are not an option at the Airport).  The Airport Commission and Resource Management staff concur and will be presenting options for the use of this space in the proposed Airport Non-Aviation Property Leasing Guidelines.  Since 1998, at least 47 artist day-studios have been lost in Santa Monica with an additional 30 in danger of closing.  The proposed Airport Leasing Guildelines would provide an additional 28,989 square feet of artist day-studio space, a minimum increase of 40 day-studios, replenishing the stock lost with the closure of Drescherville and helping to stabilize the current state of artist day-studio availability.  Implementing Departments: Resource Management (lead), Planning and Community Development, Community and Cultural Services


·        The Study recommends implementing new funding programs aimed at private developers, non-profit organizations, and property owners to provide incentives for new development.  Suggestions include a development fee on new private developments, programs to assist both providers of day-studio spaces and tenants in making improvements and conversions to existing properties, and investigation into the use of housing funds to support new development.  Planning and Community Development will conduct a nexus study for an ordinance for percent for art in private development, and the use of development fees for potential artist day-studio space can be examined within that study.  Additionally, the legality of a development fee will be fully assessed.  Implementing Departments: Planning and Community Development (lead), Community and Cultural Services


·        Several agencies and individuals with extensive expertise in the management of artist live/work and day-studio space are available to the City (Appendix K of the Study).  The Study recommends assembling a master list of these individuals.  Resource Management and Cultural Affairs staff will create a list of qualified individuals and organizations to notify  when master lease live/work or day-studio space opportunities on City property become available.  Upon adoption of the new Airport Leasing Policy, a master lease site will be available at the Airport and Resource Management will oversee a competitive process using this list of potential master lease prospects.  Prospective master lease-holders will be required to demonstrate the public benefit their management of the site would bring to the community, particularly the degree to which the facility is accessible to the public, provides affordable day-studio spaces, and serves the immediate needs of  Santa Monica artists.  Implementing Departments: Resource Management (lead), Community and Cultural Services


·        The Study suggests that one division within the City act as the lead agency to oversee development, preservation, and leasing of day-studios and live-work space.  Staff recommends that, due to the breadth of expertise and knowledge required to be able to provide reliable technical assistance to all groups identified in the report, an interdepartmental group be formed and charged with ensuring coordination of all implementation strategies.  Implementing Departments: Community and Cultural Services (lead), Planning and Community Development, Resource Management


·        The Study recommends the creation of an advisory group to advise staff on policy issues relating to artist live/work and day-studios.  The Arts Commission has recommended that the existing Artist Live/Work/Studio Task Force continue to meet for the next two years to monitor implementation of the recommendations in this plan and advise staff and Arts Commission on general issues affecting artist housing and day-studio needs.  Implementing Departments:  Community and Cultural Services (lead), Resource Management, Planning and Community Development 


Medium Range Recommendations

·        The Study points out that the California Health and Safety Code, Section 17958.11 allows local jurisdictions to modify building codes to better accommodate live/work and day-studio uses.  Staff will examine existing codes for possible changes eligible under this Code to be brought to the Planning Commission and Council for approval.  In the interim, projects can be examined on a case-by-case basis and can apply for exemptions under the current code.  Implementing Department: Planning and Community Development


·        City-supported affordable housing developments have existing certification processes based on income levels.  Artists meeting low-income eligibility requirements based on income may apply for this type of housing.  Through education efforts, City staff will make artists aware of existing affordable housing opportunities. In order that future City-sponsored affordable housing projects are suitable for artist live/work, if feasible, projects will have specific design features that will be adaptable for use by eligible artists.  Implementing Departments: Community and Cultural Services (lead), Resource Management


·        In order to help expedite the development of new day-studio and live/work developments, the Planning and Community Development Department will create guidelines on regulations specifically for developers of day-studios and live/work projects.  Implementing Departments: Planning and Community Development (lead), Resource Management, Community and Cultural Services


·        So that both artists and the general public are aware of the City’s efforts to preserve artist live/work and day-studios, the Community and Cultural Services Department (Cultural Affairs Division) will oversee the creation and distribution of press materials and promotional efforts as specific recommendations of the Study are implemented.  The Division will also create a brochure describing existing opportunities for artist housing and day-studio spaces.  Workshops and educational materials will be developed targeting the following groups: City staff, artists, general public, property owners and private and nonprofit developers.  This information will also be posted on the Division web site. Implementing Department: Community and Cultural Services


·        In an effort to generate developer interest in the creation of artist space, staff will work with local architectural schools to implement a design competition to create model day-studios and live/work facilities.  Implementing Department: Community and Cultural Services (lead), Planning and Community Development, Resource Management


Long Term Recommendations

·        The Study recommends that the City use City-owned property for new day-studio and live/work developments.  The proposed new Santa Monica Civic Center represents the best long-term development site for these projects.  This usage is compatible with the planned Civic Center as it would greatly contribute to open space activities and the overall “village” feel desired for the complex.  Implementing Departments:   Planning and Community Development, Resource Management, Community and Cultural Services.


·        The Study recommends that existing incentives for affordable housing should be used to support affordable live/work spaces and recommends changing existing zoning regulations to encourage live/work and day-studio development.  The Planning and Community Development Department will examine the current zoning codes to determine the applicability of the existing incentives for affordable housing to affordable live/work spaces and will develop recommendations to be considered by the Arts Commission, Planning Commission and City Council.  Implementing Departments: Planning and Community Development



Funding of $20,000 for consultant services to work with the Arts Commission, Cultural Affairs Division, Planning and Community Development, Resource Management, and City Attorney staff to implement recommendations contained within this report is available in account 01501.555060.  The consultant will assist in developing an application and selection process for newly available day-studio spaces, coordinate the list of prospective tenants on an annual basis, review existing zoning codes for possible modification, develop informational materials for developers wishing to create day-studio or live/work projects and for artists searching for such projects and oversee an architectural design competition for model day-studios and live/work facilities.  An annual appropriation to the Cultural Affairs Division will be requested in future year budgets to continue these services.  Long-range budgetary impacts are anticipated to the General Fund if feasible day-studio or live/work projects are identified.



Staff recommends that the City Council receive and file the attached Study of Artist Live/Work and Studio Space in Santa Monica and Strategies to Preserve and Enhance Affordable Artist Housing and Studio Space and authorize staff to proceed with the implementation of key strategies, as described above.


Prepared by:              Barbara Stinchfield, Director, Community and Cultural Services

                                    Suzanne Frick, Director, Planning and Community Development

                                    Jeff Mathieu, Director, Resource Management

                                    MarRa Luisa de Herrera, Manager, Cultural Affairs Division

            Hamp Simmons, Coordinator, Cultural Affairs Division




                        A. Study of Live/Work and Studio Space in Santa Monica and Strategies to Preserve and Enhance Affordable Artist Housing and Studio Space and Addendum (Not available electronically.  Available at the City Clerk’s Office or City libraries.)


B. Excerpt from the Minutes of the Santa Monica Arts Commission, August 21, 2000


                        C. Excerpt from the Minutes of the Santa Monica Arts Commission, September 18, 2000