City officials announced Tuesday that the community process for Santa Monica’s Downtown Community Plan, which will guide the future of the city’s thriving core for the next 15 years or so, would be extended several months to allow for more input.
Originally scheduled to go before the City Council for approval in June, officials have moved back the anticipated council hearing to early next year, citing the need for a more robust outreach period.
“This is a key planning document and we have to get it right,” said City Manager Rick Cole in a statement released by the city Tuesday.
“From the outset, I’ve emphasized the importance of reaching consensus to guide Downtown development in the years ahead. The initial feedback from both the Planning Commission and community voices underscores the importance of thoroughly understanding and analyzing the policies that will go into the plan,” he said.
Downtown Santa Monica, which is the area west of Lincoln, east of Ocean Avenue, north of the I-10 freeway and south of Wilshire, is one of the few parts of the city that could see meaningful housing growth in the near future. It is also one of the most transit-rich areas of the city and the future terminus for the Expo light rail when it opens this May.
With housing increasingly out of reach of even middle-class workers, the Downtown Plan lays out further affordable housing requirements above and beyond the 30 percent required by the city’s Affordable Housing Production Plan (AHPP) for the anticipated 2,500 new units that the plan anticipates will be built over the next two decades or so.
According to city officials, the community outreach period will run through August. A three-part speaker series will kick off in early May with a talk on place-making in the Downtown. Other community outreach events and activities will include:
- Second speaker event and Planning Commission-hosted community workshop on preservation and change in mid-June.
- Third speaker event on the future of mobility in Santa Monica in early August.
- A dozen focus groups will be hosted between May and August with up to 20 people per session.
- A digital survey tool will launch in May to run concurrent to the upcoming speaker events and focus groups.
“We’ve heard the public. It makes sense to take adequate time to ensure the entire community understands how all the policies work together to support the community’s goals,” said Planning and Community Development Department Director David Martin in the city’s statement.
“Everyone agrees on a large majority of the Plan—open space, arts and culture, transportation enhancements, and historic preservation as a priority—but we need to spend more time on the vital issues of urban design. With these added months, we can really dig into these areas and get people thinking and sharing what they’d like to see for the Downtown,” he said.
The Downtown Community Plan “is designed to ensure our incredibly dynamic Downtown continues to evolve as the city’s ‘living room’ through improvements that add to the quality and charm of the district,” said Travis Page, senior planner at the city told Santa Monica Next in October. Page is spearheading the effort along with Senior Planner Peter James.
“The Plan seeks to harness energy and interest in the area and guide private and public investment in a smart, paced, and measured manner to ensure new opportunities are available for our growing population,” Page said of the plan back in October. “These include: new housing and job opportunities, an expanded open space network that includes urban spaces for people to gather, and cultural venues and public art that add to the allure and excitement of Downtown Santa Monica – making it the Downtown we all deserve.”
This is arguably one of the most important documents for Santa Monica’s immediate future. Downtown Santa Monica is one of the city’s most walkable environments and definitely Santa Monica’s most urban neighborhood. It’s vital the city hears your ideas for how to make it an even better place to live, to work, and to play. People interested in finding out more can visit downtownsmplan.org. The city is also using #thePlanSM on social media.