City Council Meeting: June 11, 2013

Agenda Item:  7-B

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           David Martin, Director of Planning and Community Development

Subject:        Amendment to Interim Zoning Ordinance Number 2417 (CCS) to Extend the Interim Zoning Ordinance to February 28, 2014 and to Exempt Ground Floor Outdoor Dining on Private Property from a Floor Area Ratio Calculation in the Downtown District


Recommended Action


Staff recommends that the City Council introduce for first reading the attached ordinance to amend Interim Zoning Ordinance Number 2417 (CCS) to extend the effective date of the Interim Zoning Ordinance to February 28, 2014 and to exempt ground floor outdoor dining on private property from a building’s Floor Area Ratio calculation in the Downtown District.


Executive Summary


The adoption of a new Zoning Ordinance is anticipated by the end of the calendar year. The existing Interim Zoning Ordinance is effective until August 14, 2013 and needs to be extended to the point in time when the new Zoning Ordinance is anticipated to be in effect. The recommended extension to February 28, 2014 accounts for the anticipated completion of the new Zoning Ordinance by the end of the 2013 calendar year and the necessary time before the effective date (first and second reading plus 30 days).


Encouraging ground floor active uses, outdoor dining and gathering spaces, particularly within Downtown, is a theme expressed throughout the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE). Exempting ground floor outdoor dining from floor area ratio (FAR) calculations helps incentivize this activity. Creating more opportunities for outdoor dining recognizes the favorable Southern California climate and facilitates active spaces. Outdoor dining space on private property would be excluded from a project’s floor area for the purpose of the FAR calculation, but still be counted for purposes of parking and other requirements. This provision would help create opportunities for adaptive reuse in existing structures and encourage new buildings to better use naturally lit and ventilated spaces for human activities. Excluding ground-floor outdoor dining from the FAR calculation is recommended in this Interim Ordinance so that opportunities to create an active pedestrian environment and additional outdoor dining opportunities in the Downtown can be realized prior to the adoption of the revised Zoning Ordinance and Downtown Specific Plan. The proposed Interim Ordinance would also make a minor clarification about below-grade floor area.




Following the adoption of the LUCE in July 2010, Interim Zoning Ordinance (IZO) Number 2345 (CCS) was first presented to establish interim zoning provisions and standards on January 25, 2011 and was adopted on February 8, 2011. The initial IZO included a provision to exclude below-grade floor area from a project’s floor area ratio calculation in the Downtown because the area was not visible and did not add to the bulk of the building. The provision still counted the below-grade area for purposes of parking and other requirements. The concept of excluding ground-floor outdoor dining areas is similar since the outdoor dining area does not increase the bulk of the building.


The IZO has been extended and modified several times as implementation of the LUCE has moved forward: Ordinance No. 2356 (CCS), adopted on April 26, 2011, extended the IZO eighteen months to October, 26, 2012;  Ordinance  No. 2394(CCS), adopted on February 28, 2012, primarily modified restrictions pertaining to the number of restaurants on Main Street; and Ordinance  No. 2407 (CCS), adopted on August 28, 2012, addressed several issues related to auto dealerships in residentially zoned areas and extended the IZO until August 14, 2013, the existing expiration date. The most recent amendment, Ordinance 2417 (CCS) approved on February 26, 2013, modified the requirements for ministerial processing of 100% affordable housing projects of 50 or fewer units to encourage a greater mix in housing affordability levels,  helping address the City’s need for low, very low and extremely low income affordable housing units.



Development of the Zoning Ordinance is underway and Council action is anticipated by the end of this calendar year. Table 1 shows the Zoning Ordinance Update work products, Planning Commission discussions, and community meetings to date. As of this writing, two more Planning Commission sessions are scheduled; one on Transportation Demand Management provisions, and one to bring recommended parking provisions back for discussion after outreach with neighborhood groups. The current schedule anticipates that the Draft Zoning Ordinance will be released for public review in late August, followed by a 45-day review period. Planning Commission will begin its deliberations in September. Recommended adoption by City Council is anticipated in December 2013. An ordinance requires a second reading and 30 days until its provisions become effective, necessitating an IZO extension to late February, 2014.


Table 1: Zoning Ordinance Development Schedule of Work Products and Meetings




Design Review Best Practices

Joint PC/ARB Study Session

March 28, 2012

Design & Development Standards

Community Workshop

May 14, 2012

Districts Issue Paper

PC Study Session

July 18, 2012

Uses, Terms, Definitions Issue Paper

PC Study Session

July 18, 2012

Community Benefits Issue Paper

PC Study Session

August 22, 2012

Single Family & Multi-Family Development Standards

PC Study Session

September 19, 2012

Parking and Transportation

Community Workshop

September 20, 2012

Residential Design Guidelines

PC Study Session

November 7, 2012

Mixed Use Development Standards

PC Study Session

November 14, 2012

Use Regulations

PC Study Session

November 28, 2012


PC Study Session

January 30, 2013

Community Benefits Strategy

PC Study Session

May 1, 2012

Transportation Demand Management

PC Study Session

June 5, 2013

Moving Forward ….




PC Study Session

July 2013 - tbd

Draft Zoning Ordinance


August 2013

Draft Zoning Ordinance

PC Deliberations

Begin September 2013

Draft Zoning Ordinance

CC Deliberations

Begin November 2013

Final Zoning Ordinance

Final Adoption

February 2013


The opportunity for ground-floor outdoor dining on private property within a building footprint can be viewed as a desirable way to activate a space and take advantage of Santa Monica’s favorable climate, and to create naturally lit and ventilated areas for human activities. The proposed provision is similar to an existing IZO provision excluding below-grade floor area for the purposes of determining a project’s floor area ratio. The provision acknowledges that the primary purposes of maximum FARs as development standards are to control building density and mass. For the purposes of controlling the mass of a building, it is logical to apply FAR calculations to above-grade portions of buildings.


Floor area is generally included in FAR calculations if it is space that is usable, can be occupied, and contributes to the overall mass of the structure. There are exceptions to what is included in the calculation for spaces such as stairways, elevators, below-grade parking and mechanical rooms, and open spaces such as courtyards and balconies. The existing zoning ordinance currently includes open spaces in FAR calculations if they contain a commercial use, in some cases preventing their conversion to outdoor dining areas.


However, ground-floor open spaces that include outdoor dining would not add to the mass of the building. They are complementary to other existing development standards in the Downtown District that incentivize small restaurants and outdoor dining and the adaptive reuse of existing structures, such as relaxed parking standards for restaurants smaller than 2,500 square feet. Similar to below-grade floor area calculations, which the Interim Ordinance would also clarify, outdoor dining areas would still be counted for all other purposes, including determining parking requirements and trip generation.


The provision would apply only to the Downtown District at the current time and is anticipated to be recommended to be extended to other parts of the City in the Draft Zoning Ordinance. LUCE goals supporting this provision include:


Environmental Analysis


The proposed ordinance is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Section 15061(b)(3) which states that, if it can be seen with certainty that the project (interim ordinance) has no possibility of  significant effect on the environment, it is not subject to CEQA review. The proposed ordinance   extends the expiration date of the interim ordinance and would not result in a direct or indirect physical impact on the environment. Further, the proposed ordinance’s exemption of outdoor dining from FAR calculation only involves an administrative change in the definition of floor area ratio. The outdoor dining area would still be considered in the environmental review of individual projects for its potential to contribute to parking, traffic, and other impacts.


Public Hearing


A notice for this public hearing was published at least 10 days prior to the hearing in the Santa Monica Daily Press.  


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions


There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.


Prepared by: Ellen Gelbard, Assistant Director, Planning and Community Development Jory Phillips, Deputy Director – Special Projects, Planning and Community Development



Forwarded to Council:






David Martin, Director

Planning and Community Development


Rod Gould
City Manager

Attachment: Proposed Ordinance