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Welcome back from the holiday, Santa Monica. You may have noticed that we’re finally getting some much needed rain, but that doesn’t mean we can stop conserving water, so don’t forget to turn off your sprinklers. If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up rain barrels from the City to help save water and money.

Don’t let the rain put a damper on your activities, though. There’s still plenty to do in the next week or so. The Planning Commission will continue the ongoing discussion around the Zoning Ordinance Update, one of the most important planning documents the City will adopt in the next 20 years. Woodlawn Cemetery will hold its annual Tree of Life and Open House event. And, there are a couple opportunities to help spread the holiday cheer to less fortunate members of the community.

Zoning Ordinance Update

The Planning Commission Wednesday will continue its discussion of the updated to City’s Zoning Ordinance, last updated in 1988. The update “will ensure that the Zoning Ordinance is relevant to today’s concerns, and that it is easy to use, and its requirements are clear,” according to the City’s website.

The update, which implements the vision outlined in the City’s award-winning Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), is designed to take into account the need for strategically-located new housing and complete neighborhoods and the desire of residents to preserve existing neighborhoods.

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Still, anti-development activists have rallied to push back against even modest residential mixed-use growth. At a November 19 Town Hall meeting (our coverage of the meeting is forthcoming, but you can watch the whole meeting here), a coordinated group of no-growth activists turned out to demand that the update be revised to discourage most new construction — including affordable housing — along Wilshire Boulevard.

Served by the busiest bus line in the county, Wilshire Boulevard — currently almost exclusively dominated by one or two story commercial buildings — would see a modest increase in height and density limits in the currently proposed Zoning Ordinance Update.

As a major transit corridor with little housing, it is an ideal place for moderate mixed-use density, since public transportation is extremely accessible. Still, no-growth advocates want to scuttle the idea of building future homes along the boulevard.

Since the Zoning Ordinance Update is expected to be an ongoing process into 2015, the City is taking public comment at Planning Commission meetings and in writing. It is important that the City hear not only from those who oppose new housing and any other growth, but also from those residents who believe in the sustainable, livable vision for the city outlined in the LUCE, which the City Council adopted unanimously in 2010.

When: Wednesday, December 3 at 7 p.m.
Where: Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Get Involved: Do you support the sustainable, inclusive planning principles outlined in the LUCE? Let City Hall know by sending an email to your Planning Commissioners and your City Council members or through an electronic comment card.

Tree of Life at Woodlawn Cemetery

Head down to Woodlawn Cemetery on Thursday, December 4 for a celebration of those who have passed away this year. Starting at 3 p.m., visitors to the City-owned cemetery “can decorate ornaments in honor of Loved Ones who have passed and place the ornaments on our live Tree of Life in the Mausoleum Lobby,” according to officials.

At the free event, visitors will also enjoy special performances by the John Adams Middle School Choir, tours of the grounds, and light refreshments. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations for the annual Toys for Tots drive.

“Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum & Mortuary is also an official drop off site of the Toys for Tots Drive,” officials said. “Last year, more toys were dropped off at Woodlawn than ever before, enabling hundreds of children to have a happier holiday season. If you wish to donate a toy, bring them to our Tree of Life / Holiday Open House or drop them off no later than Monday, December 15.”

When: Thursday, December 4 at 3 p.m.
Where: Woodlawn Cemetery, 1847 14th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Share the Holidays/Meet Me Under the Fig

There are still more opportunities to help out the less fortunate members of our community. On Monday, December 8, Shutters on the Beach is hosting the annual Share the Holidays Toy Drive to benefit families of Santa Monica’s Police Activities League (PAL). Admission to the party is “one unwrapped toy (or gift for an adolescent),” according to the event’s Facebook page.

Then, on Sunday, December 14, the Fairmont Miramar is hosting its free Meet Me Under the Fig event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“The day’s festivities include: live entertainment, pictures with Santa Claus, whimsical gingerbread houses, seasonal crafts, holiday story readings, a bounce house and snow!” according to officials.

Officials also asked those who plan to attend to bring “nonperishable food items” to be donated to OPCC, a local organization combating homelessness, and Olympic High School.

When: Sunday, December 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: The Fairmont Miramar Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401