The seemly endless work on the revised Zoning Code is in its final stages.For some months, the Planning Commission has had one and, often,two marathon meetings a week, rat-
ther than its usual two meetings a month.
Tonight, and possibly tomorrow night, residents will be given time to comment, as well as criticize all or por-
tions of the 500-page tome. At this very late date, a sizable number of residents and some of the neighborhood organizations remain displeased with major portions of
The latest iteration of the state-mandated Land Use and Circulation elements (LUCE) was four years behind schedule when the City began work on it in 2004. It was finally approved by the City Council in 2010. Shortly after that, staff and consultants began work on the revised code and the downtown specific plan.
A couple of years ago, the downtown plan was shelved for reasons that have never been explained by the City, but many residents had not been pleased by preliminary staff reports.
Work on the enormous zoning code proceeded. Staff planners revised it and the seven-member Commission reviewed it, and asked for a variety. of changes Some were made. Others were not made. Some were made and unmade.
The Planning Department held a “town hall” meeting at Lincoln Middle School some months ago. Several hundred
people attended, and most of them were angry. There were only a few people from the Planning Department present,
and they maintained a very low profile. The seven Planning Commissioners took the heat – and there was plenty of it..
When someone from City Hall stressed the importance of commercial developments in maintaining City Hall’s “fiscal health,” he was booed, hissed, and shouted down.
Santa Monica, which five generations have had a hand in making, and 90,000 residents currently cherish, is a gloriously idiosyncratic beach town.
Its location on the legendary Southern California coast, which Hamlin Garland described as “the fortunate coast,” is the basis for everything else. Its long, broad beach and the endless ocean determined its destiny long before its first residents, a small number of Japanese fishermen, arrived.
The ocean is in and on everything – the air, the holy bounce of light that illuminates the town, the soil, which accounts for palm trees outgrowing the flimsy dirt they are planted in.
But, to the rising rage of residents,City Hall,its Conven- tion and Visitors Bureau, its Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. its developer pals, its Chamber of Commerce partners, have demonstrated far less interest in preserving the beach town character and developing a smart, workable zoning code than in creating and promoting Santa Monica: The Product, which, here and now, is defined as “the ultimate urban beach lifestyle.”
No wonder people are already talking about a referendum.