Don't compromise the future of our downtown!

Santa Monica Planning Commission, City Council, City Manager, and Planning and Community Development


In its current form, the Downtown Community Plan (DCP) is less about progressive planning and appears to be more a merging of a particular read of the current local political tea leaves with outmoded planning principles.

Our DCP should emphasize access to affordable homes, services, and jobs that pay living wages. The plan must offer strong incentives for property owners to take a dynamic and inventive approach to open space, opening our city streets, alleyways, and plazas to people and activity. The plan needs also to emphasize the role a dense, transit-rich environment plays in connecting people to one another, reducing traffic, creating a more just and vibrant economy, and overall improving sustainability in the broadest sense of the word. In other words, it should apply our community’s values about diversity and sustainability to the underlying facts our city faces.

In its current form, it does not accomplish these things. Don't compromise the future of our city! Here's our full position on the DCP. In summary, we believe the DCP should:

  • Make it easier, not harder, to build housing at all affordability levels in our downtown by increasing height limits near the Expo line and in the "Neighborhood Village" zone to 90 and 84 feet respectively. Projects within these more liberal limits should require a more streamlined Development Review Permit, instead of Development Agreement (DAs). The continuation of the lengthy, expensive and unpredictable DA process as the preferred method for obtaining approval represent a very different message than the statement from the Planning Division that the DCP “is a housing plan.”
  • Explicitly make use of data sources like the Wellbeing Project and the Sustainability report card for fact-based planning to advance a diverse and thriving - and environmentally sustainable - multigenerational downtown community.
  • Be less reliant on extraction of fees and instead should offer incentives to property owners to create the amenities our downtown will need to continue to grow as a neighborhood.
  • Take a more dynamic approach to creating open space. Open space downtown needs to interweave with and complement the reality of the urban environment, not simply be passive green space. These spaces need to be alive with activity, programmed, and inviting to people and therefore need to be integrated with buildings and their uses.
  • Development Agreements should be reserved only for the three so-called large sites. Voter approval requirements or a supermajority Council vote threshold for large projects set a regressive precedent and should not be included. Projects that seek approval at these large sites will be appropriately be required to provide much-needed housing and quality, well-paying jobs and will undergo a robust public process before ultimately being vetted by the Council.

We deserve a better plan for the future of our city, one that adequately addresses climate change, growing income inequality, and our ever-worsening housing crisis. Together, we can build a more inclusive and just Santa Monica.

Sponsored by

To: Santa Monica Planning Commission, City Council, City Manager, and Planning and Community Development
From: [Your Name]

Don't compromise the future of our downtown. We hope that you will consider the below changes to better bring the Downtown Community Plan in line with our goals of maintaining diversity, addressing the housing crisis, reducing traffic, and tackling the root causes of climate change.

Thank you.