Zoning Ordinance Update Lacks Community Input

trailerRapid development continues to bring rapid gentrification and displacement.  With the construction of the light rail in Santa Monica and the push for Transportation Oriented Development (TOD) our residents will be threatened by new commercial development, traffic, increase in air pollution and by a relentless housing market that continues to generate significant rent increases and high priced condominiums that very few residents can afford.

The Pico Neighborhood is home to the City’s most ethnically, generational and economically diverse area in Santa Monica. The median per capita income in this neighborhood ($25,132) is the lowest of all five zip codes in the City.  The Pico Neighborhood is also the home to the largest concentration of single parent households in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

We urge the City Council to incorporate policies and programs that will help maintain and protect our City’s economic, generational and racial diversity. The PNA has outlined that we feel can help protect a healthy stock of real affordable housing for low-wage residents in Santa Monica.

I.               Inadequate timeline for Community Input:

The release of Zoning Ordinance Update before the Holidays makes it very difficult for residents to review, analyze and fully participate in the review process. The Zoning Ordinance Update will have a major impact on our City years to come and therefore it requires sufficient time to allow for a thorough community process and creates opportunities for engagement by residents. The release of this vital document during the Holidays sends a message to the residents that the City staff with the leadership of the City Manager is once again trying to circumvent and or curtail resident involvement.

The City should allow ample time for residents to fully review and participate in the community review process.   

 

II.              Removal of R-M H Zoning from Mountain View Trailer ParkIII.                   

The removal of R-M H Zoning from Mountain View Trailer Park removes the Manufactured Housing protections, this Zoning was created by the residents of Santa Monica who signed the petition that was presented to City Hall in 1988-1998, the petition took an entire year to complete and the new zoning of R-MH protected both Village Trailer Park and Mountain View MHP from that time forward to now. Zoning should be a simple representation of the buildings and people who reside in them.

 

The City should maintain the R-MH Zoning for Mountain View Trailer Park.

 III.            Establish an Overlay District for the Pico Neighborhood

There is a need for protections that will facilitate the preservation of existing affordable housing along transit corridors. With the expansion of light rail, demand for housing along transit-rich corridors is expected to rise in the coming years, creating market pressures that will threaten the City’s rent-controlled affordable housing stock. According to the LUCE the transit corridor that has been designated for the City of Santa Monica will have a direct impact on both the Pico and Mid-City Neighborhoods. This increased demand to live near transit corridors will undoubtedly have a damaging impact on low-income households by driving up rental pricing which will result in pushing out long time renters out of Santa Monica. This housing demand will no doubt create pressures of gentrification and will result in many more families being pushed out of Santa Monica. The pressures

of gentrification along the designated transit corridor using Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) plans or justification has already pushed low-income families out of their rental units, the most recent example is Village Trailer Park. Unfortunately, if policies aren’t put in place to safeguard our affordable housing stock, more families will continue to suffer from the detrimental impact of gentrification caused by TOD plans. When low-income households are displaced by the creation of new TOD, it disproportionally impacts people of color who utilize public transportation. The result of the displacement of low-income households undermines the goal of reducing automobile use and creates an unintended consequence of pushing out low-income families that are reliant on public transportation.

The City should establish an Overlay District as a tool to protect affordable housing and the cultural and economic diversity of Santa Monica

IV.           Initiate a Specific Plan for the Pico Neighborhood

The City needs a comprehensive approach to manage the development along transit corridors that includes aggressive preservation of existing affordable housing and options for low-income residents to safeguard their homes as well as commercial development. The Bergamot Area Plan only covers a portion of the area that will be developed due to the TOD.  We need a plan that will look at development along the entire transit corridor and establish standards that will help protect the quality of life for residents that live along transit corridor that will no doubt be developed.

The City of Santa Monica should initiate a Pico Neighborhood Specific Plan.

V.             Mapping of Zoning Designations- A lots

On page 11 the staff proposes to maintain the proposed zoning map consistent with existing zoning. The LUCE map changed the designation of a handful of properties located on the edges of commercially-zoned boulevards from residential to commercial, and commercial to residential.  Staff primarily recommends retaining residential zoning for any parcels whose LUCE designation has changed.  Additionally, all existing A Parking Overlay designations are recommended to remain as currently mapped.  Mapping of all parcels will be explored in more detail in the staff report for recommendations to City Council scheduled for February 5, and at that time, staff will recommend whether or not they seem appropriate, or whether the LUCE map should be updated. Attachment B includes a revised draft zoning map.

Furthermore the staff report reads: Mapping of all parcels will be explored in more detail in the staff report for recommendations to City Council scheduled for February 5, and at that time, staff will recommend whether or not they seem appropriate”. This is unacceptable.

These recommendations are supposed to be vetted at the Planning Commission level and available in advance for public review.  This represents a circumvention of the public process.

The Planning Commission should direct Planning staff to provide their detailed recommendations for public review and to also schedule the discussion of these recommendations for the January 8th Planning Commission hearing.