City of Santa Monica
California

Staff Report
2737

City Planning Division Priorities

Information

Department:Planning and Community DevelopmentSponsors:
Category:08. Administrative Item

Recommended Action

Recommended Action

 

It is recommended that the City Council review and provide guidance on setting the upcoming City Planning Division priorities.

             

 

 

Staff Report Body

Executive Summary

The adoption of the Downtown Community Plan in 2017 marked a major milestone and added to the list of significant implementation efforts completed since the adoption of the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) in 2010. These efforts include the completion of the Bergamot Area Plan, the Bike Action Plan, the Pedestrian Action Plan and the Zoning Ordinance Update. While substantial progress towards LUCE implementation has been made over the last seven years, there are additional Area Plans and ordinance updates that are necessary to fulfill the vision of the LUCE. In addition to the implementation projects recommended by the LUCE, there are new initiatives directed by City Council as well as major Development Agreement projects that are pending Planning Commission and City Council review.

 

This report summarizes pending policy and development projects, provides a general timeline of when these projects can be completed (Attachment A), and presents a recommended prioritization of these work items for Council discussion. While these projects involve collaboration between various City Divisions and Departments, they are primarily led by the City Planning Division within the Planning and Community Development Department. In addition to staffing the policy and implementation projects in this report, the City Planning division is also responsible for the processing of all development permit applications including Planning Commission review, Landmarks Commission review, Architectural Review Board, Zoning Administrator and building permit plan check. Therefore, it is necessary to consider these priorities and schedules in the context of the “day to day” work of the City Planning division and the capacity of the division to complete these projects while also maintaining its significant administrative functions and processing of numerous Development Review permits, Administrative Approvals and plan checks.  Further, after approval of projects, there are typically three rounds of plan check followed by managing issues that arise through construction and occupation of new buildings.  With a handful of staff assigned to the strategic planning and design and historic preservation function, there are approximately eight planners assigned full-time to development review, which includes processing planning applications, plan checks, staffing the counter, responding to phone inquiries, and reviewing business licenses.  Due to volume and emerging division needs, small teams of planners normally assigned to development review are assigned to augment strategic planning and design/historic preservation projects.

 

 

It should also be borne in mind that planning is not an end in itself.  The goal of land use and transportation planning is to help shape great places, whether they be districts, neighborhoods or streets.  The identification of ambitious and laudable goals does not automatically produce results.  It is critically important that planning be grounded in the capacity of City government and private real estate market forces and property owners to actually implement adopted policies.  The City of Santa Monica already has a backlog of implementation activities, projects and initiatives.  By focusing on the highest priorities for future land use planning and mobility enhancements, the City can produce practical, achievable policy guidance for public and private investment in the years ahead.  This is the highest and best use of limited staff and financial resources.

This report divides the Division’s upcoming priorities into three sections, and provides a fourth section on alignment with citywide priorities:

 

I)                    Policy Plans and Ordinance Updates: The first section consists of major policy implementation efforts that were called for in the LUCE or subsequent policy documents, or are necessary due to legal requirements or outdated ordinances. These include the Pico Neighborhood Plan, the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan, the Local Coastal Program Update, the Gateway Master Plan, the Landmarks Ordinance Update, and an update to the City’s Travel Demand Forecast Model and adoption of CEQA thresholds compliant with CA Senate Bill 743.

 

II)     Council Directed Research: The next section includes five items that have been directed by City Council, primarily through the approval of “13 Items,” for staff and Planning Commission review and possible action by the Council. These include review of the R1 Development Standards, review of the Bergamot Area Plan to consider the percentage of housing required in specific developments, amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to prohibit the conversion of hotel rooms to residential units in the Proposition S Overlay area, and review of the development standards and entitlement processes for housing projects on the commercial boulevards and in the Bergamot area to incentivize housing over commercial development.

 

III)   Major Development Agreements: The third section of this report provides a summary and status update of four major Development Agreement projects currently pending. These include the Phase Two Master Plan for Providence Saint John’s Health Center, the proposed mixed-use project at 4th/5th and Arizona, the redevelopment of the Miramar Hotel, and the proposed Ocean Avenue Hotel project located on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.

 

IV)  Alignment of Division Workplan with Council Priorities: The final section of this report demonstrates how the City Planning Division’s ongoing work efforts align with the five strategic goals of the City Council.  This section also looks at the Council-directed research through the lens of citywide priorities as a means to help the Council provide feedback on The City Planning Division’s proposed workplan priorities.

 

Planning Commission Discussion

On December 13, 2017, staff presented these priorities to the Planning Commission.  The Commission voted 6-0 to prioritize the following:

1)     Pico Neighborhood Plan

2)     SB743 CEQA implementation

3)     Landmarks Ordinance update

4)     R-1 Interim Zoning Ordinance standards

5)     Options for housing on the boulevards and in the Bergamot area

 

The Commission identified these as key areas of focus given competing demands.  The Commission also based its recommended priorities on the principle of preservation, which is why the Pico Neighborhood Plan, Landmarks Ordinance update, and review of R-1 standards rose to the top.  Staff had originally proposed only a very targeted zoning effort for the Pico Zoning District that would directly address recent requests from the Pico Neighborhood Association.  However, in their discussion and in response to public testimony at the meeting, the Commission indicated a broader scope to the Pico Zoning District would be appropriate.  This discussion drew from the Commission’s prior review of Pico Neighborhood goals in June 2016 and LUCE Goal N11, which calls for protections for Pico Neighborhood and the Boulevard through an area planning process.  This would mean that staff could proceed with the Pico Neighborhood Plan in two phases – immediate zoning changes as Phase 1 and a broader interdepartmental implementation effort as Phase 2 that would include a more intensive public engagement process. This is described in more detail in the next section of this report.  SB743 is required and the production of housing remains a City priority.  In order to ensure that there is sufficient capacity for these priorities, the Commission recommended delaying the Gateway Master Plan.

 

I.        POLICY PLANS/ORDINANCE UPDATES

 

Pico Neighborhood Plan

The Pico Neighborhood Plan is a budgeted planning effort ($150,000) intended to address concerns within the Pico neighborhood. Bounded by the I-10 Freeway to the north, Pico Boulevard to the South, Centinela to the east, and 7th Street to the west, this planning area integrates the residential neighborhood of R2 and R1 District households with the commercial Boulevard.  While there is a desire for a comprehensive approach to  addressing concerns about enhancing quality of life, minimizing displacement of longtime residents and retaining neighborhood character through a range of activities that may include housing policies, cultural-based planning initiatives, economic development incentives, crime and safety interventions, circulation enhancement recommendations and environmental/landscaping improvements, experience has shown that land use planning tools are not ideal for tackling such challenges.  The staff recommend a narrower approach led by PCD to address zoning issues related specifically to protection of neighborhood character and retaining affordable housing.  If the Council wishes to pursue a more comprehensive approach, staff recommends this be a multi-departmental effort outside the scope of setting PCD priorities.

 

To ensure community participation in the land use planning effort, the bulk of the budget will be used to conduct multi-lingual outreach. Planning staff is already at work organizing and conducting dozens of meetings with staff from across many City departments to understand the context of current City services offered to Pico residents and businesses. Future outreach will involve various neighborhood organizations, residents, community groups, places of worship, cultural associations, business improvement districts and other stakeholders.  Outreach and technical analysis will help staff to develop zoning revisions. 

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff intends to expedite analysis and recommendations for land use planning changes beginning with an in-house evaluation of potential zoning ordinance updates to provide a context-specific framework for development in Pico similar to standards that were established for the Ocean Park neighborhood.  These may include revisiting the Mixed Use Boulevard Low zoning on Pico Boulevard, evaluating rules for combining residentially-zoned lots in the Pico Neighborhood, and a review of the appropriateness of Parking Overlay 2 parking requirements between Lincoln and 11th Street.  Staff expects to bring forward this Zoning Analysis to Planning Commission in the second half of 2018.  Community outreach for the Pico Plan will begin in early 2018.

 

Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan (MPNP)

The Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan was launched in 2013 to design a framework for the rezoning of approximately 70 acres of formerly industrial land centered on the Expo Light Rail station at 17th Street and Colorado.  Several outreach events were conducted in 2013-2014, and a presentation was made to the Planning Commission in July 2014.  A planning framework was drafted in late 2014, which ties together a desire for additional housing in this area, as well as new streetscape concepts that address permeability, landscaping, and the presence of a regional transit connector in close proximity to Santa Monica College and the city’s two hospitals. Due to competing priorities for staff time on the Downtown Community Plan, a public draft of the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan was not completed.

 

The appropriate level of environmental review necessary to address potential changes in land use proposed by the MPNP is currently being evaluated.

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff anticipates the need to rework and enrich the draft document to make it relevant to today’s regulatory environment, and to work closely with the Community and Cultural Services Department throughout the re-design process of Memorial Park, which will begin in early 2018.  Outreach to re-establish communications with area stakeholders and the community at large about the MPNP can begin simultaneously. It is anticipated that the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan and required environmental analysis will be completed in the first half of 2019.

 

Local Coastal Program Update

The Local Coastal Program Update is being funded through a combination of Coastal Commission grants and local funds and consists of two parts – a Land Use Plan (LUP) and Implementation Plan (IP).  Over the past two years, staff has been working closely with Coastal Commission staff to discuss and resolve key policy issues with respect to coastal access, new development, and the new science of sea level rise. 

 

 

Anticipated Timeline

It is expected that a public draft of the LUP will be released for public review in early 2018, followed by Council review and an application to the Coastal Commission for final plan adoption.  Once the LUP has been substantially completed, staff will start the IP, otherwise known as the “coastal zoning ordinance.” It is anticipated that it will take up to 24 months to complete City review of the IP.

 

Gateway Master Plan

The Gateway Master Plan is a funded planning effort that will address comprehensive planning for the area adjacent to the I-10 Freeway that links Downtown to the Civic Center and Samohi. There is a unique opportunity for strengthening connections over the freeway right of way. This would provide multiple benefits, including:

·         Seamlessly link the historic Downtown and historic Civic Center, removing a visual and physical divide

·         Allow for better freeway entry and exiting in the often congested traffic bottlenecks

·         Provide access to peripheral parking opportunities that could reduce vehicular impacts on the Downtown core

·         Provide a framework for design and access for adjacent properties

 

Development of the Gateway Master Plan will be an open process facilitated by staff, and include participation from the community, land owners and decision-makers as priorities for the area are refined. This key location should become an experience that reflects the city’s values of community, sustainability and pride of place.

 

Anticipated Timeline

As established in the Downtown Community Plan, properties within the Gateway Master Plan boundaries may only request Tier 2 height and FAR until the earlier of 2021 or the completion of the Gateway Master Plan. In order to meet the timeline established in the DCP, staff would need to initiate the process for the Gateway Master Plan in the first half of 2018.

 

Landmarks Ordinance Update

The Landmarks Ordinance was adopted in 1976 and has not been comprehensively updated since its inception.  Since that time, application of the ordinance to a variety of preservation projects has revealed some ambiguities in language that would benefit from clarification.  The Landmarks Commission has long advocated for a comprehensive update to the ordinance to provide clarity on implementation and to also explore new directions, such as the potential for a second tier of designation.  The Commission has identified a list of issues over a number of years that would be the starting point for the ordinance update.

 


Anticipated Timeline

Given other priorities, staff will likely start work on a comprehensive update to the Landmarks Ordinance in the second half of FY2018/19.  The ordinance update will be a joint effort between City Planning and the City Attorney’s office. 

 

SB743 Implementation

In the next couple of years, transportation review required under CEQA will change as a result of the adoption of California Senate Bill 743 (SB743). SB743 will require the City to adjust the way it conducts CEQA-mandated transportation analysis. The State’s published CEQA Guidelines indicate that the City will be required to use vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the metric for transportation analysis under CEQA. VMT measures the total distance traveled (in miles) between the origin and destination of a trip and as such, captures the full extent of vehicle travel on the roadway network (VMT = Trip Rate x Trip Length). VMT is a more appropriate metric for assessing transportation impacts on the environment, because it is related to greenhouse gas emissions, the development of multimodal transportation networks, and a diversity of land uses.

 

Currently, output data of the City’s Travel Demand Forecast Model (TDFM) is used to generate Level of Service (LOS) analysis as formerly required under CEQA. Since 2008 the Model also has calculated VMT for informational purposes, but not as a threshold of significance for transportation impacts under CEQA. To comply with the anticipated CEQA Guidelines under SB743, the TDFM will need to be calibrated to use VMT to assess transportation impacts.  Furthermore, the City will have to establish new transportation review procedures and adopt new VMT-based traffic impact thresholds to replace the existing LOS impact thresholds.

 

Anticipated Timeline

City Council approved a contract with Fehr + Peers in October 2017 to update the TDFM with the 2017 citywide transportation counts, and to recalibrate the model based on network changes and horizon year land uses. Fehr + Peers will also assist with development of some of the SB743 review guidelines and thresholds.  Community engagement is anticipated to educate the public regarding this change and establishing new transportation analysis thresholds, including a public workshop, focus groups and a number of public hearings.

 

The project will begin with updating and recalibrating the Model from January to September 2018.  This work includes steps to complete traffic counts and quality assurance, develop horizon year forecasts, update the physical network, update and calibrate, and to evaluate TDM and VMT Performance.

 

Following the Model update, staff will work on developing transportation review guidelines and thresholds from July 2018 through April 2019.  This phase will include tasks to develop CEQA significance thresholds, develop planning-level transportation metrics, and develop guidelines for transportation review of projects.

 

II.     COUNCIL DIRECTED RESEARCH (“13 ITEMS”)

 

R1/Single Family Residential Development Standards

As part of the adoption of the zoning ordinance update, Council directed staff to further research neighborhood-specific zoning changes that would address the unique character of neighborhoods.  The Planning Commission wrote a letter to the City Council requesting review of the R1 zoning standards.  Staff has received complaints from neighborhood groups and individual residents expressing concern about the size of new homes.  In nearly all cases, staff has found the new homes of concern to comply with existing zoning regulations for single-unit dwellings.  A previous update to the R1 standards addressed “mansionization” concerns in 2000.  Staff has received complaints regarding recent renovations/additions and the redevelopment of older housing stock.  These have raised questions regarding the appropriateness of the existing R1 zoning standards.  While the R1 standards have been in place for many years, existing homes typically do not represent the maximum buildable envelope resulting in a mismatch between new homes and existing homes.  An update to the R1 zoning standards would require a significant public engagement process regarding the appropriate character and scale of new construction and additions in R1 neighborhoods.

 

Anticipated Timeline

It is expected that staff could begin work on a comprehensive update to the R1 standards in the second half of FY2018/19.  In the meantime, if directed by Council, an interim zoning ordinance that takes a more surgical approach to strategically address specific R1 zoning standards that would regulate the size of new home construction pending completion of a comprehensive update could be completed in the first half of 2018.

 

Amendment of Bergamot Area Plan to Increase Percentage of Required Housing

The Bergamot Area Plan (BAP) encompasses an area that includes a large amount of the city’s office space and includes the heart of the city’s creative industries with approximately 8,000 workers.  The BAP established a required land use mix in the Mixed Use Creative zoning district of 40% residential and 60% non-residential with an allowance to vary by 10% in either direction.  Since the adoption of the BAP, completed or under construction projects include the following:


Project

Address

Land Use

Entitled By

Agensys DA

1800 Stewart Avenue

Research and Development

1988 Zoning Ordinance

Village Trailer Park DA

2930 Colorado Avenue

362 units housing

24,893 sf retail and creative office

1988 Zoning Ordinance

Colorado Creative Studios DA

2834 Colorado Avenue

192,000 sf creative office

1988 Zoning Ordinance

Pen Factory

1681 26th Street

203,816 sf creative office

2013 Bergamot Area Plan

 

As demonstrated by the above table, only one of the mentioned projects was approved under BAP regulations.  However, the DA’s approved under the 1988 Zoning Ordinance did provide some of the infrastructure enhancements identified in the BAP for those sites as negotiations were ongoing simultaneously with the development of the Plan.  The Pen Factory project was entitled as a Tier 1 addition of 7,499 square feet converting the vacant industrial space to creative office.  The only other project to have been approved (but not constructed) since the adoption of the BAP is an approximately 600-space private parking structure at 2941 Michigan Avenue. 

 

In the years subsequent to the adoption of the Bergamot Area Plan, staff has heard from the development community that the BAP does not contain sufficient height and FAR incentives to attract housing or commercial development, and that uncertainty and project risk weigh heavily on larger projects.  Minimal differences in the FAR allowance between Tier 1 and Tier 2 do not provide incentives to produce housing or projects that could contribute community benefits to the area’s transformation.  And, while the BAP did identify certain properties as ripe for Tier 3 mix-use development projects, the uncertainty of the development agreement process has led many owners to maintain their properties “as-is.”  To the extent that there is interest in creating housing incentives similar to those created in the DCP, further study and environmental analysis is required in order to determine necessary amendments.

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff expects to be able to initiate work in the first half of FY2018/19. This effort would likely be folded into any options brought forward to encourage housing production on the boulevards.

 

Explore Tools to Encourage Housing Production on the Commercial Boulevards and in the Bergamot Area and Disincentivize 100% Commercial Projects

As part of the adoption of the Downtown Community Plan, Council gave further direction to also study incentives for housing production citywide on the commercial boulevards and the Bergamot area.  It is likely that work on this item would be combined with any updates to the BAP designed to encourage housing production discussed above.  It is likely that fully exploring this direction would also precipitate amendments to the Affordable Housing Production Program (AHPP) ordinance if not a comprehensive update to the AHPP. Establishing a framework similar to the DCP will require additional economic feasibility analyses in addition to outreach. In relation to the issue of housing on the boulevards, staff has included a map (Attachment B) showing the under construction, approved, and pending housing projects throughout the City.

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff expects to be able to initiate work in first half of FY2018/19.

 

Amendment of Zoning Ordinance to Prohibit Conversion of Existing Hotel Rooms to Residential Uses in the Proposition S Overlay Area

A recent change in ownership of one of the hotels in the City prompted inquiries from Council and the community as to the intentions of the new owners, who converted a hotel to for-sale condominiums in another city.  New hotels are prohibited in the Prop S overlay area and therefore, the importance of preserving existing hotels has been underscored.  There has been no indication of any interest in converting existing hotel rooms to residential uses nor are there any pending applications for such a conversion.

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff proposes to bring this forward with the “Bucket 3” package of zoning ordinance discussions in the third quarter of 2018.

 

Explore Ordinance Denying New Discretionary Permits of Entitlements on Properties Where Ongoing Violations Remain Unresolved

There have been occasional instances where a property has outstanding Municipal Code violations but the property owner/applicant submits an application for a new permit.  In these situations, Council has expressed concern that by issuing new permits, the applicant is not incentivized to abate the Code violation. 

 

Anticipated Timeline

Staff proposes to bring this forward with the “Bucket 3” package of zoning ordinance discussions in the third quarter of 2018.

 

III.      MAJOR DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

 

Providence Saint John’s Health Center Phase Two Master Plan & Development Agreement Amendment (2121 Santa Monica Boulevard)

 

The Providence Saint John’s Health Center (PSJHC) Phase Two Project development agreement amendment includes a master plan process that will comprehensively review the circulation, land use, parking, and development potential for the Health Center’s north and south campuses located on Santa Monica Boulevard between 20th and 23rd Streets.  A procedural amendment to the development agreement was approved on April 25, 2017 and established a framework that resulted in the following:

 

·         Changed the South Campus Master Plan to a Phase Two Project Master Plan encompassing all of Phase Two development, on both the North and South Campuses.

·         Changed the Development Agreement to require approval of the Phase Two Project Master Plan prior to approval of the individual Development Review Permits for Phase Two Project buildings. 

·         Required a phasing plan and performance schedule for significant project components such as infrastructure, circulation improvements, and community benefits. 

·         Established the City Council as the decision-making body for the Phase Two Project Master Plan.

·         Required that all Phase Two development be consistent with the approved Phase Two Project Master Plan. 

 

Staff and the applicant team have completed their first-round review and discussion of the Phase Two Project circulation plan and started the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Phase Two Project with release of a Draft EIR for public review anticipated at the end of 2018.  

 

Anticipated Project Review Timeline

·         Substantive Master Plan Review and Community Benefits Negotiations – 2018

·         EIR Public Review Draft – 4th quarter 2018

·         Planning Commission Hearings – 1st quarter 2019

·         City Council Hearings – 3rd quarter 2019

·         Development Review Permits for new John Wayne Cancer Institute, Child & Family Development Center, and replacement housing (Scenario A) or West Ambulatory & Acute Care Building and replacement housing (Scenario B) – 4th quarter 2019

 

 

 

Plaza at Santa Monica (4th/5th and Arizona)

The proposed Plaza at Santa Monica project is a public/private partnership located on City-owned land.  The current project proposal conforms to the limitations in the DCP at a height of 129’ and consists of office, hotel, retail, and cultural uses.  A large public plaza intended to provide space for a seasonal skating rink and other year-round programming is a key feature of the project.

 

The site is identified as one of three Established Large Sites in the Downtown Community Plan.  The project requires both negotiations on terms of the ground lease with the developer and a development agreement. The project is currently in the environmental analysis phase with the Draft EIR anticipated to be released for public review in 2nd quarter 2018.  Per Council direction, the Draft EIR will be studying a range of eight project alternatives that include significantly different configurations for development of the site, particularly ones that envision a larger component of public space in the form of a central park or plaza for Downtown.  Complimentary circulation alternatives are also part of the environmental analysis, including consideration of partial or periodic closure of Arizona.  Formal hearings are anticipated to commence at the Planning Commission towards the end of 2018.

 

Anticipated Project Review Timeline

·         EIR Public Review Draft – 2nd quarter 2018

·         Planning Commission Hearings – 4th quarter 2018

·         City Council Hearings – 2nd quarter 2019

 

Miramar Hotel Mixed-Use Project (1133 Ocean Avenue)

The proposed Miramar Hotel Mixed-Use Project Development Agreement application was originally submitted in April 2011 to comprehensively redevelop the existing Santa Monica Fairmont Miramar Hotel as a new approximately 550,000 SF (2.9 FAR) mixed-use hotel with the following key components:

 

·         265 guest rooms

·         food, beverage, meeting, and spa facilities

·         retail space along Wilshire Boulevard

·         approximately one-acre open space area at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue

·         up to 120 condominiums

·         up to 40 affordable housing units at 1127 2nd Street

·         approximately 484 on-site subterranean parking spaces

·         Preservation of the site’s Landmark Moreton Bay Fig Tree

·         Preservation/rehabilitation of the Landmark Palisades Building

 

Following Planning Commission’s review of the conceptual plans in February 2012, the City provided direction regarding desired design parameters for the site and potential priority community benefits to be negotiated, and authorized staff to initiate development agreement negotiations with the applicant for the proposed project in April 2012.  The project design was revised by the applicant team and resubmitted in 2013. At that time, the design strategy for the site focused on constructing a significantly taller, new building at the center of the site (approximately 262’ tall) with open space and reduced building heights on the perimeter of the property.  While City staff initiated work on the EIR for the project in 2013, that work along with City review of the revised project design was put on hold pending completion of the Downtown Community Plan (DCP).

 

The Council adopted the DCP in August 2017 and included an Established Large Sites Overlay for three individual project sites in the Downtown. The DCP requires that projects for these three sites be processed as a development agreement and comply with specific development parameters (building height, floor area, and open space). For the Miramar Hotel site, the maximum building height for the project site is 130’ and a maximum floor area ratio of 3.0. 

 

It is anticipated that the applicant will submit revised project plans during the first quarter of 2018 that address programmatic changes and design concept revisions compliant with the DCP’s Established Large Sites Overlay regulations. Following initial review of these revised plans, City staff will resume its preparation of the Draft EIR for the project, including hosting a second EIR Scoping Meeting for the new project design.

 

Anticipated Project Review Timeline

·         Submit Revised Project Plans – 1st quarter 2018

·         EIR Scoping Meeting for Revised Project – 1st quarter 2018

·         Substantive Project Review and Community Benefits Negotiations – 2018 through 1st quarter 2019

·         EIR Public Review Draft – 1st/2nd quarter 2019

·         Planning Commission Hearings – 3rd quarter 2019

·         City Council Hearings – 1st quarter 2020

 

Ocean Avenue Hotel (101 Santa Monica Boulevard)

A Development Agreement application was submitted in February 2013 for a proposed mixed-use hotel, cultural, retail, and residential development at the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue (“Ocean Avenue Project”). The applicant hosted a Community Meeting to introduce the proposed project in March 2013 which was followed by the Architectural Review Board’s conceptual discussion of the proposal in August 2013. Following completion of the Community Meeting, City review of the project was put on hold pending completion of the Downtown Community Plan. For the Ocean Avenue Hotel site, the adopted DCP specifies a 130’ maximum building height for the site and a maximum floor area ratio of 4.0. 

 

The applicant submitted revised project plans last month that address programmatic changes and design concept revisions compliant with the DCP’s Established Large Sites Overlay regulations. Key components of the revised project include:

 

·         115-room hotel with meeting room and banquet space;

·         79 residential rental units, comprised of 19 new rent-controlled units to replace existing on-site units, 42 market rate units, and 18 affordable units;

·         Ground-floor restaurant and retail space;

·         Cultural/museum campus with open space;

·         Publically-accessible roof-top observation deck;

·         Subterranean parking;

·         Retention and rehabilitation of two, on-site designated City Landmark structures.

 

The applicant is scheduled to host a second Community Meeting to introduce the revised project design on January 11, 2018.  Following initial review of the project plans, preliminary conceptual review will be scheduled at the Landmarks Commission and/or the Architectural Review Board during the first quarter of 2018.  It is anticipated that Float-Up Discussions at Planning Commission and City Council will be completed by the third quarter of 2018 followed by initiation of environmental review for the project.

 

Anticipated Project Review Timeline

·         Community Meeting – 1st quarter 2018

·         ARB/Landmarks Conceptual Review – 1st quarter 2018

·         Planning Commission Float-Up Discussion – 2nd quarter 2018

·         City Council Float-Up Discussion – 3rd quarter 2018

·         EIR Scoping Meeting – 4th quarter 2018

·         Substantive Project Review and Community Benefits Negotiations – 2019 

·         EIR Public Review Draft – 4th quarter 2019

·         Planning Commission Hearings – 3rd quarter 2020

·         City Council Hearings – 1st quarter 2021

 

IV.               ALIGNMENT OF WORKPLAN WITH COUNCIL PRIORITY AREAS (STRATEGIC GOALS)

 

In order to connect desired outcomes to the day-to-day work of city government, the City Council identified five council priority areas, or Strategic Goals, that are expected to have short-term impact on community safety, quality of life, and prosperity.

 

 

Based on best practices from municipalities across the country, Santa Monica is now using an approach to workplan development and budgeting that connects the work of City Departments to a new Framework and SaMoStat. This process aligns departmental work efforts, measures outcomes, and ultimately ensures that the City delivers these services effectively and a transparent manner. The Framework is built around its long-term commitment to sustainability infused with its new Wellbeing Index, Santa Monica’s custom measurement tool that provides an understanding of wellbeing in our community. The Framework is built on the core beliefs, visions, and structures of these two exciting and groundbreaking approaches. The five strategic goals connect to these outcome areas through a matrix. They are the key drivers that will allow us to achieve outcomes for residents of and visitors to Santa Monica.

 

Based on these descriptions of the five priority areas, the following matrix has been developed to guide the Council’s discussion on focus areas for the City Planning Division.  The matrix demonstrates where individual planning efforts or Council directed research aligns with Council priorities. 

 

Council Strategic Goals

INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE COMMUNITY

MOBILITY

THE AIRPORT

HOMELESSNESS

LEARN AND THRIVE

Policy Plans

Pico Neighborhood Plan

X

X

 

 

X

Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan

X

X

 

 

X

Local Coastal Program Update (Required by law)

X

X

 

 

 

Gateway Master Plan

 

X

 

 

 

Landmarks Ordinance

 

 

 

 

 

SB743 Implementation (Required by law)

 

X

 

 

 

Council Directed Research

R1 Standards

 

 

 

 

 

Bergamot Housing and Use Mix

X

 

 

 

 

Housing Production on Boulevards

X

 

 

 

 

Hotel/Condo in Prop S Overlay

 

 

 

 

 

Denying Permits for Properties with Unresolved Code Violations

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Council’s strategic goals formed the basis for how staff prioritizes the work of the City Planning Division, especially those that require staff and funding resources.  A second framework for organizing priorities is based on ongoing legal requirements.  This would allow projects such as the Local Coastal Program Update, Housing Element, and SB743 guidelines to be brought forward.  A third framework is based the urgency of issues to be addressed.  For example, staff has been bringing forward clarifications to the zoning ordinance in response to questions raised in the course of project review and implementation.  As these changes directly affect the daily work of the division, these have been prioritized.

 

CONCLUSION

This report presents an overview of the strategic plans, land use policies, and major development agreements that are the City Planning Division’s priorities for the next two years.  The significant volume of “day to day” work requires the majority of staff to be devoted to the Division’s development review function.  Similarly, each of the projects in this report requires a significant investment in staff time, consultant time, and public engagement.  Therefore, some of the strategic plans and comprehensive ordinance updates in addition to the major development agreements have been prioritized so that projects can be completed in a timely manner responsive to Council’s direction.  Council directed-research is incorporated into the workplan as appropriate, but based on the Council’s strategic goals, staff would prioritize work on the creation of housing incentives on the boulevards and within the Bergamot Plan area.  Due to the ongoing construction in R1 neighborhoods that continues to generate community concern, if directed by Council, staff could prepare an interim zoning ordinance in short order that could put in place temporary regulations pending a comprehensive update.

 

As noted in this report, staff has organized priorities based upon the following framework:

 

1.     Council adopted Strategic Goals

2.     Legally required policy documents

3.     Urgency of issue and impact on daily work

 

Based on this framework, staff has prioritized the Division’s work as described in the table below, which has been formatted to show a comparison of the Planning Commission’s recommended priorities. As this table demonstrates, the Pico Neighborhood Plan is the division’s top strategic planning priority, followed by the required SB743 Implementation.

 

City Planning Staff Recommendation

Planning Commission Recommendation

1.      Pico Neighborhood Plan

 

1.                                               Pico Neighborhood Plan

 

2.      SB743 Implementation

 

2.                                               SB743 Implementation

 

3.                                              Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan

3.                                               Landmarks Ordinance Update

4.                                              Local Coastal Program Update

4.      R1 Standards

5.      Gateway Master Plan

5.         Options to Encourage Housing on the Boulevards

6.         Options to Encourage Housing on the Boulevards and in the Bergamot area

 

 

7.         Landmarks Ordinance Update

 

 

The remainder of the strategic plans and Council-directed research will be included in the work plan as capacity allows.  In these instances, staff has been reviewing interim options that might allow bringing forward changes sooner while reserving a larger effort for subsequent years.

 

Major developments projects also have a natural stagger however, processing of these applications requires a significant investment of interdepartmental staff time, time for environmental review, and community engagement.  As all the development agreements are anticipated to generate public interest, it should be noted that staff devoted to processing the projects will not be able to devote attention to other potential priorities, such as the Landmarks Ordinance update. 

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

 

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