Santa Monica Planning Commission Considers Bergamot Area Plan Concepts

Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 2:06:00 AM

Mirror Staff

Revitalizing old sites with newer projects has appeared to be a theme at City Hall in recent years, and the old Papermate site and current home to Bergamot Station is no exception.

On Wednesday, Santa Monica’s planning commissioners spent time discussing emerging themes of the Bergamot Area Plan at its meeting.

Among the themes discussed by the Planning Commission were circulation, parking, jobs-to-housing ratio, open space, ground floor retail space, community benefits, and overall infrastructure.

Collectively, each of the themes will ultimately shape the development of Bergamot Station and its Area Plan.

“The (Bergamot Area) Plan also seeks to fortify the creative and cultural arts industries by recognizing the area as an ‘innovation district’ and encouraging programs and strategies that support this important component of the City’s economic and cultural identity,” a staff report to commissioners stated.

One of those components is how the area’s circulation would function. As governed by the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), a proposed “Bergamot Street Network” would explore “multiple street typologies for creating the type of multi-modal network that is desired by the community, and which will contribute to an active walking environment.”

Simply put, the Bergamot Area Plan, if realized, would create “complete streets” that would allow bicycles, pedestrians, vehicles, and basic infrastructure to all co-exist with functioning efficiency.

Parking and the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) would also be an essential component of the Bergamot Area Plan. To complement the LUCE, the Bergamot Area Plan aims to incorporate “managed” on-street parking, on-site parking, and district/shared parking. Even more, the plan would seek “to create a pedestrian-friendly ‘park once’ environment” where Bergamot visitors could park their respective cars in one place and enjoy all of the area’s amenities.

Another key element of the plan would be to maintain a balanced job-housing ratio while also establishing an area that is “walkable and interesting.”

According to City Hall: “The Bergamot Area is identified in the LUCE as an area for new jobs and housing, and will need a hand-crafted urban form concept to guide the right uses to the right locations, and to provide appropriate transitions to minimize impacts to surrounding residential.”

To foster a commercial/residential mix, the Bergamot Area Plan would potentially call for “a wide variety of pedestrian-oriented ground floor uses and new open spaces to infiltrate the former industrial lands.”

Ultimately, the Bergamot Area Plan hopes to “encourage workers to live closer to jobs in order to reduce commutes.”

Infrastructure is also a key element of the Bergamot Area Plan, with “substantial upgrades” potentially in store for electric, gas, sewer, and water networks.

Bicycles are also expected to be a significant portion of the Bergamot Area Plan, with staff pointing out the possibility of buffered bike lanes, shared lane markings, and “high-quality bicycle connections” to the future Expo station.

“Bicycles are welcome on all streets in the Bergamot area, and are supported by a range of bicycle facilities in the comprehensive multi-modal network,” the staff report stated.

Finally, the plan would incorporate community benefits. City Hall plans to work with area residents and Bergamot Station artists to determine the ideal community benefits that should be incorporated into the Bergamot Area Plan.

“Creating a complete neighborhood is a collaborative effort of property owners, non-profits, residents, artists and many others, based on the tiered structure established in the LUCE,” staff said in its report to planning commissioners. “A recent community workshop invited discussion of implementation strategies and details for community benefits in the Bergamot area.”

Other proposed plans include the extension of Berkeley Street and Nebraska and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Bergamot Station would essentially serve as a gateway for non-resident Santa Monicans who will travel into town on the future Expo Line, as the light rail’s first stop in the city would be here.

“Seizing the opportunity to simultaneously conserve the scale and character of the City’s residential neighborhoods, while directing employment and housing pressure to select areas of Santa Monica, the 2010 LUCE re-classified the basic land use designations around Bergamot from industrial and light manufacturing (LMSD) to Mixed-Use Creative District and Bergamot Transit Village, and tasked the Bergamot Plan with creating the tools and standards to manage the area’s transformation,” staff wrote to planning commissioners.

According to the staff report, the City Council will consider a draft of the Bergamot Area Plan. That review was originally scheduled for June. However, according to the Santa Monica Coalition for a Living City, the council review has been delayed until early next year.

Assuming the council review takes place then, staff would move forward with conducting a series of studies “to further develop and refine the concepts presented” to commissioners and council members. Public input would follow.

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