City Council Meeting: August 13, 2013

Agenda Item: ­­8-B

To:                   Mayor and City Council 

From:              David Martin, Director of Planning and Community Development

Subject:         Adoption of the Bergamot Area Plan and Findings of Consistency with the LUCE EIR in Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

 

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.    Find that the adoption of the Bergamot Area Plan is within the scope and covered by the Land Use & Circulation Environmental Impact Report (LUCE EIR), in compliance with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and,

2.    Adopt the Bergamot Area Plan pursuant to Municipal Code §9.04.20.18.040, per the attached Resolution.

3.    Direct staff to begin Phase I implementation measures, including negotiations of development agreements based on the adopted Plan and development of a proposal to establish a non-profit Transportation Management Association (TMA) for the Bergamot Plan area.

Executive Summary

This report presents for adoption the final Bergamot Area Plan (Plan), which provides policies and standards for transitioning 142.5 acres of former industrial lands into an arts-focused, transit-oriented, mixed-use pedestrian-oriented neighborhood anchored by the Bergamot Exposition Light Rail Station. The Plan refines the vision for this new Santa Monica neighborhood called for in the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), and establishes policies, standards and guidelines applicable to projects that develop, remodel, or adaptively reuse existing buildings.

The Plan also includes an Implementation and Monitoring Plan.  As one of the key locations identified in the LUCE for managed growth over the next 20 years, the Plan area offers unique opportunities for building a new neighborhood that embraces coming transit options while maintaining its existing character, its place in the city and the region, and its prominence as a hub of culture and innovation. The transit-oriented focus of the Plan envisions a mix of uses, including housing at all affordability levels and new businesses that are open in both the daytime and evenings that will also provide amenities to residents both within and outside the Plan boundaries.

Since the release of the Draft Bergamot Area Plan in February 2013, staff has conducted or attended 20 public meetings to present the Plan. Feedback, comments and questions have been generated from neighborhood groups, individuals, business organizations, trade professionals, and eight of the City’s Boards and Commissions, including two recent hearings before the Planning Commission.  The Final Plan has been modified based on this input, as summarized in this report and detailed in an attached list.  The extensive community involvement and complex planning process has been supported by a Sustainable Communities Community Challenge Grant awarded in 2010 by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

 

The following summarizes the Plan’s eight chapters:

·         The Executive Summary outlines the key features of the Plan, and includes “infographics” that visually describe the Plan’s comprehensive nature.

·         Chapters 1-3 include a summary and overview, the vision, including the Guiding Principles, and assessment of the history and existing conditions. 

·         Chapter 4 contains the Plan’s “Core Components” which describe the philosophical underpinnings of the integrated and comprehensive approach:

a)    Urban Form,

b)    Land Uses,

c)    Circulation and Mobility,

d)    Art and Culture,

e)    Economic Sustainability, and

f)     Utility Infrastructure 

·         Chapter 5 contains the land use regulations and development standards.  Its standards will supersede and constitute the Zoning Ordinance for the Plan area, where specified.

·         Chapter 6 provides the Design Guidelines that are part of the regulatory structure and are intended to create some architectural flexibility to encourage innovation and visual interest while respecting the human scale and adjacent residential neighborhoods.

·         Chapter 7 guides the City and developers with specifications for all the street types, including a robust palette of carefully selected tree species that will introduce the urban forest into the area. 

·         Chapter 8 outlines a phased implementation approach that includes specific actions to be taken by the City and/or private development during three project phases.  Strategies are identified for achieving the objectives of each phase.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis has been performed on the Bergamot Area Plan through a Consistency Checklist. The conclusion is that the environmental impacts associated with the Bergamot Area Plan would be within the envelope of impacts analyzed in the LUCE EIR and will not cause a new or greater significant impact.  The traffic study included in the Consistency Checklist determined that the improved street network and the reduction in development densities from those set forth in the LUCE would result in fewer significantly impacted intersections, and would eliminate significant traffic impacts at 3 of the 5 intersections that were previously identified to be significantly impacted in the LUCE EIR.  Additionally, the number of Citywide PM Peak Hour trips, per capita vehicle miles traveled and vehicular (GHG) emissions would be reduced as compared to the LUCE EIR. A copy of the Bergamot Area Plan Environmental Review/Consistency Checklist and Traffic Analysis is included in Attachment C.

 

Background

The Bergamot Area Plan was initiated to help transition 142.5 acres of former industrial land into a walkable, sustainable and innovative mixed-use neighborhood.  At the heart of the district are the Expo 26th Street/Bergamot Light Rail station and the Bergamot Art Center, which are the transportation and cultural catalysts for the district. By 2016, the Exposition Light Rail station and companion regional bike and pedestrian path will open at Bergamot Station, serving over 3,400 transit riders and hundreds of cyclists daily. Recognizing the critical need for well-designed and accessible transit in this area, the City has invested $6.7 million in Bergamot Station access betterments (December 13, 2011) to provide an eastern entrance to the station and ensure integrated connectivity to the area.

The planning effort has been guided by community participation that has included stakeholder interviews, focus groups, online surveys, community workshops, neighborhood meetings, and public hearings before the City Council, Planning Commission and the City’s Boards and Commissions.  Throughout the workshops and discussions, the residents, business owners, artists, employees, cyclists, pedestrian advocates, non-profits, schools, developers, and other stakeholders have advocated for an incremental and context-based approach that recognizes the ability for density, design, mobility strategies and desired land uses to come together in a sustainable and replicable model that reduces car trips, stimulates walking and biking, provides affordable options for housing, and creates new jobs. 

A Draft Plan was released in February 2013, and additional outreach since then has included over 20 public meetings to neighborhood groups, local businesses and their employees, presentations at public events and functions, as well as with eight of the City’s Boards and Commissions. Recent outreach has included events targeted to neighboring employment centers like The Water Garden, Viacom, and Colorado Center.  This outreach effort has yielded additional refinements to the draft Plan. 

The City Council (June 14, 2011, June 12, 2012, and March 12, 2013) and Planning Commission (May 16, 2012, December 12, 2012, February 13, 2013, February 20, 2013, June 12, 2013 and July 10, 2013) have held public hearings and provided significant input into the planning process, shaping the concepts and strategies over the last two and a half years.  Throughout the planning period, the project’s website www.bergamotplan.net has provided a consistent opportunity for public information sharing. Below is a list of all meetings that have been conducted with the participation of a few hundred people:

A $652,000 Sustainable Communities Community Challenge Grant was awarded in 2010 to advance urban sustainability goals through integrating land use and transportation planning to reduce vehicle trips and greenhouse gas emissions.  HUD’s “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” showcases visionary and leading planning efforts around the country that provide replicable models for sustainable neighborhoods. 

Discussion

The Plan (Attachment A) envisions the creation of a new sustainable neighborhood – one that conserves the industrial character that has attracted a regionally significant creative community, including the Bergamot Art Center, and infuses new, transit-oriented pedestrian-friendly buildings with a mix of local-serving uses that can take full advantage of the opportunities coming with the Exposition Light Rail.  The Bergamot Plan vision describes a future that presents new ideas and old ones together, aiming for a vibrant, interesting future for the four land use districts, shown below, that comprise the Bergamot Area Plan.

Refining the LUCE Vision

The 2010 LUCE designated the land in the former industrial area as “Bergamot Transit Village” and “Mixed Use Creative,” and identified the need for an Area Plan to refine the vision as well as standards, guidelines and implementation measures.  While implementing LUCE targets for land use mix and vehicle trip reduction, the Final Plan has reduced the Tier 3 maximum floor area ratios to 2.2 and 2.5 in the Mixed Use Creative and Bergamot Transit Village Districts, respectively.  Conservation Areas have also been created for the Art Center and Creative Sector subareas to conserve their roles as cultural and small business incubators.  The following sections of this report discuss some of the Plan’s key concepts and innovations.

 

Land Uses and Housing (Chapter 4b, and Chapter 4e)

The Plan designs a new piece of Santa Monica’s diverse cityscape, and in doing so significantly raises the bar for the design and distribution of land uses to create a sustainable neighborhood pattern that interweaves retail, housing, creative office, cultural institutions, arts, and open spaces. Four land use districts comprise the area, including two new districts that were not previously identified in the LUCE, as well as two overlay zones that strive to activate key portions of the Plan area with pedestrian-oriented uses and streetscape.  A diversity of new permitted and conditionally permitted uses removes existing barriers to housing, daily needs retail and services, and aims for the LUCE targets for new land uses to include 40 percent housing and 50 percent housing in the Bergamot Transit Village and Mixed-Use Creative districts, respectively.

Bergamot Area Plan Districts

 

Bergamot Transit Village

Mixed-Use Creative District

Conservation Creative Sector District

Conservation Art Center District

 

Through a coordinated balance of land uses, the mixed-use neighborhood will begin to offer new lifestyle choices, like the opportunity to live in walking/biking distance to jobs, schools and gathering places.

 

The Plan encourages and creates opportunities to develop housing for all members of the community, including a target of 30 percent of all new housing affordable to households making 30 to 150 percent of area median income. Incentives are provided in the development standards for Tier 1 and Tier 2 projects to include more than the minimum required Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) units. An emphasis on linking employees to new housing developed in the Plan area is highlighted as a goal for future projects, and is reinforced by policies and standards that support increased density in exchange for more affordable and diverse unit types.  All uses are expected to provide expressive and high quality contemporary architecture that is human-scaled, designed to meet stringent environmental performance standards, and which organizes private and public realms into a coordinated network of open spaces. 

Equally important is that the Plan area will be developed with retail and service uses that reach beyond the Plan area to also serve surrounding residential communities.  Neighbors in the Pico and Mid-City neighborhoods will benefit from availability of additional nearby amenities such as restaurants, childcare facilities, personal services and shopping opportunities within easy walking and biking distance. 

Circulation and Mobility (Chapter 4c, Chapter 7)

The Plan seeks to improve the circulation infrastructure through a range of different streets that serve pedestrians, cars, bicycles and buses, conveying all people safely and comfortably to their end destinations.  The LUCE’s vision for breaking down the large industrial-era parcels into a block pattern that is consistent with the Santa Monica street grid has resulted in the identification of 10 potential new streets and 15 potential pedestrian and bicycle pathways that are designed to match the desired purpose of the particular area – complete streets for the major throughways at the Plan area’s perimeters that cater to both car and non-motorized movers alike; flexible streets to accommodate Nebraska Avenue as the Plan area’s new “main street”; and shared streets for narrower, less travelled blocks, like Berkeley Street, that can give more priority and comfort for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Traffic analysis has been performed on the street network to align the Plan with the LUCE goal of no new net PM peak hour trips, reductions in per capital GHG emissions, and well as vehicle miles travelled.  In all cases, the Bergamot Area Plan’s circulation network outperforms the LUCE.  The revised model, with updates since 2010, eliminates three of the five previously identified significant traffic impacts.  A detailed traffic analysis is included as an attachment to the LUCE Environmental Consistency Checklist.

Active forms of transportation like bicycle-riding and walking are encouraged in the Plan through a host of required facilities that help cyclists and pedestrians navigate their way through the district.   Many of the Plan area’s off-street bicycle resources will be provided by private development based on Plan requirements for increased short- and long-term bicycle parking and community benefits to supply amenities like bike sharing pods and a Bike Center near the Expo Station to serve the needs of the targeted 35% mode share. Pedestrian amenities such as new streetscapes, sidewalks on Olympic Boulevard, six new pedestrian crossings and a diverse urban forest that provides canopy will dramatically change the daily experience for thousands of existing district employees and will be welcomed by the new workers and residents who are expected to populate the area as it grows.

Connections to transit services provided by the new Expo light rail, and expanded Big Blue Bus service form the backbone of the Plan’s comprehensive circulation approach, which seeks to ensure that a significant share of those in the area arrive and depart using transit.  The need to address passengers’ “first mile-last mile” experience is addressed through a wide range of recommended physical improvements to streets and key district gateways, as well as through programmatic features such as the introduction of the Transportation Management Association (TMA) which could have the ability to provide transit-related incentives to thousands of area employees.

Parking (Chapter 4c, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6)

A key goal of the Bergamot Area Plan is to manage parking resources so there are enough parking spaces to ensure healthy functioning of the area while not providing more parking than necessary, and ensuring that spaces are used efficiently through sharing and real-time availability information.  Sufficient parking is necessary for the success of the Plan area as a mixed-use business and residential district.  The appropriate level has been calculated at 2.0 spaces per 1,000SF of commercial uses, based on actual use studies, and no more than 1.0 space per residential unit. The Plan creates the conditions for successful parking management through a combined approach that includes: a shared parking district provided by private development through the Plan’s development standards; unbundling vehicle parking from commercial and residential leases; parking pricing to control utilization; design guidelines that describe the optimal configuration and design of parking facilities; requirements for car-share spaces; and communication strategies to optimize the use and value of existing and future parking.

Local case studies in areas served by transit, such as downtown Santa Monica, have helped to shape vehicle parking requirements. Specifications for bicycle parking and related facilities, such as showers and long-term bike parking facilities, are geared to serve the expected mode shift away from the personal automobile. 

 

Transportation Demand Management & Transportation Management Association (Chapter 4c, Chapter 5)

As a new neighborhood, the City’s mandate for sustainability and trip reduction is at the highest priority level in the Bergamot Plan area. Over 30 Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are included in the Plan, comprising physical amenities, programs, incentives and project requirements to make this area contribute substantially to the citywide goal of No Net New PM Peak Hour trips. Additionally, the Plan calls for immediate establishment of a TMA to support, facilitate and provide leadership in reducing vehicle trips, particularly for smaller businesses. The TMA’s responsibilities could be expanded to monitor and adjust parking pricing, market available spaces on behalf of its members, and encourage existing surface parking lot owners to join the area-wide shared parking district through economic incentives.  The Plan includes a variety of incentives for existing small businesses to join the TMA, as well as requirements for TMA membership and participation for new projects or businesses that exceed certain thresholds or seek certain exemptions from key standards.

 

Conservation to Maintain Character (Chapter 4a, Chapter 4b, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6)

The Plan establishes two new land use districts to conserve areas that are significant to maintain the area’s cultural and creative cache.  The Conservation – Creative Sector District (CCS) establishes a district that retains its existing scale and building forms to preserve smaller, more affordable spaces.  Standards in the CCS District limit development to Tier 1 (1.5 FAR, 36’ max height), at the same time removing obstacles to the rehabilitation and moderate expansion of existing buildings so that they can be adapted to meet businesses’ growth needs.  The Conservation – Creative Sector District also doubles as a buffer between the established residential areas on Berkeley, Franklin and Pennsylvania Streets, and the more intense activities of the Mixed-Use Creative District centered on Nebraska Avenue.

 

The Conservation – Art Center District (CAC), which over the past 20 years has thrived as a center of high quality galleries, a museum, and other arts-related uses, includes 5.6 acres of property owned by the City and 1.8 privately-owned acres adjacent to the future Bergamot Expo Station.  Seeking to maintain the essence of the district while allowing for attractive public open spaces, increased opportunities to enjoy the arts and new uses and amenities that serve art lovers, families and visitors, the Plan limits the intensity of development to 1.0 FAR on the City-owned parcel, and 1.5 FAR on the two adjacent privately-owned parcels without compromising the ability for creative architecture and height up to 86’ in strategic locations.  This vision has led to a process currently underway for the City to find the right partner to develop this vision in a sustainable way – economically, environmentally and creatively. A recommendation on the selected development team will be brought to Council by the end of 2013.

 

Sustainability (Chapter 4e and Chapter 4f)

Sustainability, as a community objective, underlies the entire Plan.  Integrated land use and transportation planning is a critical implementation measure to achieve the goals of the Sustainable City Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Strategy for a Sustainable Local Economy. The LUCE has moved the City forward on this path by focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through addressing congestion, limiting future automobile trips and building the infrastructure for active transportation.  The Bergamot Area Plan applies the most current thinking on creating a built environment that is “green,” and which meets the highest environmental performance standards.  An urban forest is reintroduced into the former industrial lands through parkland and open space requirements, and new landscaped streets and streetscapes that will transform acres of impermeable asphalt into a verdant collage of high quality public spaces for all to enjoy. And while projects are required to treat storm water and urban run-off on-site, the Plan identifies locations for more significant, sub-regional infiltration and bio-retention facilities should the opportunity arise.

The Economic Sustainability chapter (Chapter 4e) focuses on the social and economic factors that will contribute to the Plan area’s self-sufficiency from the standpoint of job and housing diversity.  Simultaneously giving a boost to the community of the “creative cluster” through a variety of policies intended to encourage knowledge-transfer and new partnerships, this section also highlights the benefits of new housing that aligns with local worker salaries, lifestyles and family sizes as a way to reduce trips, increase discretionary income, and create a neighborhood environment.  Coordinated development standards and Plan policies make the creation of housing that is affordable to the local workforce an attractive option for mixed-use developers, and economic development strategies point future workers to housing that can accommodate their unique housing needs, entertainment interests and lifestyle choices.

 

Implementation and Monitoring (Chapter 8)

Implementation is a shared responsibility between various stakeholders, the City, and future stewards of the Plan area, such as the TMA.  There is not one individual source or tool that alone holds the key to the realization of the community’s vision – particularly in light of the recent loss of Redevelopment funds and pending City budget deficits – but rather a spectrum of available financing and funding tools like assessment districts that could support landscaping and lighting along the envisioned streetscapes, or could be used to purchase land to build a new community park.  Other sources of funding include development and impact fees, community benefits, CEQA mitigations, Capital Improvement funds (CIP Program) and grants.  The Plan’s development standards (Chapter 5), too, create the opportunity for projects to implement the Plan’s vision through adherence to regulations governing the creation of streets, open space, public art, housing, and utility enhancements. 

 

Plan implementation will occur over an extended period of time, and will be driven by various key event and projects.  Some measures, like new Olympic Boulevard crossings linking redeveloped parcels to the Expo Station, will be privately initiated and guided by the Planning & Community Development Department through the permit or development agreement process.  In other instances, key catalyzing projects, like the revitalization of portions of Nebraska Avenue, will depend on the City to coordinate financing from numerous sources, including the General Fund and grant resources, to complete budgeted Capital Improvements.  In either case, the Plan identifies and arranges projects in three phases that logically connects improvements to critical milestones and opportunities, such as the opening of the Expo Light Rail.

 

Phase I implementation is primarily focused on preparing for connectivity with the Expo Light Rail opening in 2016, and in establishing the transportation resources and management structure to align parking, transit, and active transportation networks.  The Transportation Management Association (TMA) is one of the vehicles for organizing these activities that will lead to reduced vehicle trips. Creating the TMA is a high priority, and will require a dedicated partnership between the City and the TMA post-adoption of the Bergamot Area Plan to establish the organizational structure, set goals, and fill strategic gaps that will support plan implementation in parallel with other transportation measures in effect.  At the same time, Phase I implementation includes establishing the long-term funding and financing mechanisms such as the exploration and ultimate creation of a Business or Property Assessment District to generate funding for critical public improvements and amenities, and to build infrastructure that helps the area absorb new uses without creating significant additional peak hour trips.

 

Public Outreach and Refinements to the Plan

The process of completing the draft Bergamot Area Plan included a wide variety of outreach initiatives that helped develop the core concepts of the Plan.  Five well attended workshops were conducted that drew in over 700 participants.  Other outreach included dozens of one-on-one interviews, four focus group sessions on the Bergamot Art Center with local and regional artists and arts organizations, a public website, and an employee survey.  Since the release of the draft Bergamot Area Plan in February 2013, staff has conducted an additional 20 public meetings with neighborhood and business groups, employees, and several of the City’s Boards and Commissions, including five appearances before the Planning Commission.  Input from these sessions has been incorporated into the Final Bergamot Area Plan.  Below is a synopsis of the substantive changes made to the Plan resulting from staff’s outreach to the community:

 

·         Traffic and Congestion: Several enhancements have been made in the Final Plan to Chapter 4c. (Circulation and Mobility), Chapter 7 (Street Standards and Guidelines), and Chapter 5 (Development Standards) to refine the street and parking networks, to provide clarity about future opportunities for additional transit and service enhancements, and to more clearly outline the responsibilities of the proposed TMA.  Additionally, a district-wide Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) target of 2.0, higher than the level in other parts of the city, was added.

·         Housing Affordability: The Area Plan has been refined to include policies and strategies that engage employers or developers to create new resources for the creation of workforce housing.  Additionally, a standard to incentivize more affordable housing in Tier I and Tier II projects has been added that allows developers to count the floor area of the incremental Affordable and Workforce housing units (deed restricted for households at 30%-150% of median income) that are provided above the AHPP requirement at 75% of the actual floor area of these units.

·         Height Transitions to Existing Residential: Staff has developed a new standard for regulating the transition in height between new buildings and existing adjacent residential neighborhoods.  The new standard retains the protection for the existing residential, but allows for consideration of creative solutions to be presented as part of a project application (see figure 5.05, Chapter 5 Development Standards).

·         Creative Character and Affordability: Further benefits have been added to both of these Districts and apply only to the retention of existing buildings including: exempting mezzanines from floor area ratio (FAR) calculations and parking requirements, and application of the State of California Historic Building Code for minor additions or alterations. Additionally, in the Conservation – Creative Sector District only, additions up to 2,500 square feet may be added to existing buildings without additional parking, provided at least 50% of the structure is maintained.

·         Parking: The Final Bergamot Area Plan includes separate requirements for Tiers 1-2 and Tier 3 projects.  Tiers 1-2 projects are not required to share their required parking, but if the developer chooses to build additional (non-required) parking, it is only allowed with an agreement to share the increment of additional parking.  Tier 3 projects, which are typically negotiated through a Development Agreement, can be required to share a larger proportion of their parking.

·         Park and Ride: The Final Bergamot Area Plan includes a variable pricing strategy that charges different rates for time-of-day/day-of-week and also differentiates for employees registered within the TMA and those who are not, such as Park and Ride commuters. Rates are to be established and maintained that will always make transit more economical. Rates can be flexible to facilitate off-peak use of park-n-ride spaces by Santa Monica residents and others. 

·         Park Space Acquisition: The Final Bergamot Area Plan includes a greatly enhanced discussion on financing and funding mechanisms that can be used to realize the improvements contemplated in the Plan, including the acquisition and development of a community park.  As an accompaniment, Chapter 8 (Implementation) also lays out the necessary steps for bringing existing specifically identified property into the City portfolio of parkland.

·         Loading Standards: Staff has developed new loading standards that are included in Chapter 5 that dictate the location, configuration and access of loading facilities for all projects, as well as a mechanism to grant exceptions in order to ensure that loading zones do not detract from a project’s pedestrian orientation.

·         Implementation: Based on additional research on Business or Property Assessment Districts, the Implementation section includes an expanded discussion on the mechanisms for financing key Plan improvements, and describes in greater detail the process for the establishment of both a short- and long-range funding strategy, which should be pursued in parallel in order to bring necessary improvements to the area prior to Expo opening, and over the long-term time horizon of the Plan as the area transitions to a new neighborhood. The Plan now includes rough order of magnitude costs for all Phase 1 projects and for two major Phase 2 projects that will be based on City, and not project, funding.

·         Plan Readability and Structure: Adjustments made to the Plan layout now make the document more visually accessible, and key features of the Plan are featured in ”info-graphics.”  The Chapter 5 standards have been reordered and reformatted to create a logical sequence of concepts to aid in the design process.

·         Clarification on Benefits: Minor text changes have been made to the Plan to better reflect legal requirements in obtaining infrastructure improvements, community benefits, and other district-wide enhancements as well as developer-paid fees.

 

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission held two public hearings to review the draft final Plan (June 12, 2013 and July 10, 2013) and the findings for consistency with the LUCE EIR.  The Commission recommended adoption of the draft final Plan via resolution with specific amendments and modifications that are listed in Exhibit B of the resolution (Attachment D). The modifications largely pertain to key development standards and Plan policy that seek to balance the intensity of new uses, including housing that is affordable to the workforce, with human-scale development that provides essential elements of Placemaking, like open space, outdoor dining, streetscapes and circulation enhancements.  See Attachment D for the full text.

Among the productive clarifications to retail frontage standards, sustainability measures, open space creation and workforce housing targets, the Planning Commission’s primary recommendations were to modify the Tier 2 FAR parameters for the Bergamot Transit Village and Mixed-Use Creative Districts to a lower number that was commensurate with the structure that had been adopted in the LUCE.  Hence, Tier 2 in the Bergamot Transit Village has been reduced from 2.2 FAR to 2.0 FAR, and Tier 2 in the Mixed-Use Creative District has been reduced from 2.0 FAR to 1.7 FAR.  Additionally, the Commission recommended that Tier 2 and Tier 3 FAR for the privately-owned parcels within the Conservation – Art Center District be increased to 1.5 FAR for the purpose of allowing slightly greater density near the planned Expo Light Rail station.

 

Lastly, the Commission provided a recommendation to modify the incentive for housing affordability to reach individuals and families making between 30%-150% of area median income (AMI), and to provide for a variety of unit sizes to serve the needs of families of various sizes.  Alternative recommendations are being made to the following two items:

1.    Planning Commission recommendation: Explore protected east-west and north-south cycle-way and encourage connections beyond the Plan area.

·         Staff Response: After evaluating the opportunity for both east-west and north-south connectivity through the area via a protected cycle-way, staff believes that the planned Expo Regional Bike and Pedestrian Path (due to open in 2016) will establish an east-west connection into Los Angeles and west to 17th Street (with planned connections beyond).  Attachment E includes language to explore potential routes for a north-south protected cycle-way to service the area and beyond.

2.    Planning Commission recommendation: Add language that projects exceed State standards for energy conservation by 15%.  Encourage cooperative efforts for area-wide energy generation.

·         Staff Response: Staff consulted with the City’s Green Building Advisor, who was concerned that the State standards keep getting more stringent, and 15% higher will not necessarily result in a good return on investment.  Staff proposes instead to pursue his suggestion that the Plan focus on increasing energy production through a higher standard of solar energy system provision. The following Policy (in the Urban Form section) and Standard are proposed:

 

Policy UF5.4: Ensure that new buildings contribute towards attaining a level of solar energy production that significantly furthers the City’s goal of achieving net zero energy use by 2020.

 

Standard B.14 Bergamot Plan Area Solar Energy Requirement. Consistent with state law, all new buildings with a gross roof area of 15,000 SF or greater shall install a solar photovoltaic energy system that is connected to the electrical grid.  When installed, the solar energy system shall be capable of producing at least 5 kilowatts AC for every 1000 square feet of building footprint area.  For the purposes of calculation, the building footprint area shall be rounded to the nearest 1000 square feet. The applicant may propose alternative technology to produce an equivalent amount of renewable energy subject to approval by the Planning Director, or his/her designee. Exceptions:

1)    This requirement may be reduced to the extent the Applicant can demonstrate that compliance with this requirement is technically infeasible due to shading from existing nearby objects. 

2)    This requirement may be reduced to the extent the Applicant can demonstrate that annual energy demand for the building does not exceed the annual energy production of the required solar energy system.

 

CEQA Environmental Review/Consistency Analysis with LUCE

On July 6, 2010, the City Council certified the LUCE Program EIR (State Clearinghouse Number #2009041117), adopted CEQA findings and a statement of overriding considerations, and adopted the LUCE.  The LUCE Program EIR analyzed the environmental impacts of future changes that would reasonably occur with implementation of the LUCE. According to Section 15168(c)(2) of the State CEQA Guidelines, a program EIR can be used in compliance with CEQA to address the effects of a subsequent activity so long as the activity is within the scope of the project covered by the program EIR and no new effects are found and no new mitigation measures would be required.  In accordance with CEQA, City staff conducted environmental review of the Bergamot Area Plan to analyze whether the Plan is within the scope of the project described with the LUCE Program EIR.

 


 

As analyzed in the Consistency Checklist, the environmental impacts associated with the Bergamot Area Plan would be within the envelope of impacts analyzed in the LUCE EIR and will not cause a new or greater significant impact.   The traffic study included in the Consistency Checklist determined that the Bergamot Area Plan would not result in more severe traffic impacts than analyzed in the LUCE Program EIR.  The improved street network and the decreased development densities set forth in the Bergamot Area Plan result in fewer intersections significantly impacted.  The Bergamot Area Plan would eliminate significant traffic impacts at 3 of the 5 intersections that were previously identified to be significantly impacted in the LUCE EIR.  Additionally, the number of Citywide PM Peak Hour trips, vehicle miles traveled, and vehicular emissions would be reduced as compared to the LUCE EIR.  The Consistency Checklist also determined that with the Bergamot Area Plan, environmental impacts with respect to the following issues would be consistent with those described in the LUCE EIR: Aesthetics, Agricultural and Forestry Resources, Air Quality, Cultural Resources, Geology and Soils, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hydrology and Water Quality, Land Use and Planning, Mineral Resources, Population and Housing, Public Services, Shadows, Utilities, and Mandatory Findings of Significance.

 

On the basis of substantial evidence in light of the whole record, City staff has determined that the Plan will not involve “new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects” which were not previously identified in the LUCE Program EIR. Additionally no new mitigation measures would be required; mitigation measures that were adopted for the LUCE Program EIR continue to remain applicable. Therefore, no further CEQA documentation is required for adoption of the Plan.

 


 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

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

 

Prepared by: Peter D. James and Elizabeth Bar-El, AICP, Senior Planners

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

David Martin

Director, Planning and Community Development

 

Rod Gould

City Manager

Attachments

A.     Final Bergamot Area Plan

B.       Draft Council Resolution to Adopt the Bergamot Area Plan

C.       Environmental Review/Consistency Checklist and Traffic Analysis Memo

D.     Planning Commission Resolution to Adopt the Bergamot Area Plan

E.        Changes to the Draft Final Bergamot Area Plan (June 2013)