City Of Santa Monica Files Notice Of Preparation For Downtown Specific Plan

Tuesday, 1 Oct 2013, 9:28:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

City officials filed on Sept. 19 a Notice of Preparation for a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Santa Monica Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), informing relevant parties and the general public of pertinent information applicable to the proposed zoning update.

In accordance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines, the official Notice of Preparation was sent to the State Clearinghouse, responsible agencies, trustee agencies, organizations, and interested parties, according to the Sept. 19 memorandum on Santa Monica letterhead.

The seven-page Notice of Preparation for the DSP’s Draft EIR outlined the Plan’s location, boundaries, description, and “probable environmental effects.”

With the “probable environmental effect” section, the Notice of Preparation listed 18 areas the DSP would impact if implemented in its current form.

For example, one area of impact listed was aesthetics and visual resources.

“The EIR will present a general discussion of potential changes in aesthetic character,” the Notice of Preparation reads. “The EIR will consider potential impacts to scenic resources (including removal of mature trees in the urban forest), obstruction of public scenic views, and increased nighttime lighting.”

Another area of impact is air quality.

City officials stated while the DSP intends to implement a proactive goal of congestion management and “no net new p.m. peak hour trips,” the EIR “will evaluate potential for air pollutant emissions changes both locally and regionally.”

With the possible arrival of high-rise buildings along Ocean Avenue, shadows were listed as an area of impact.

“The draft (DSP) incorporates building form, massing, setback and stepback standards as well as design guidelines for new projects to encourage pedestrian orientations, design compatibility, and conservation of the physical character of the Downtown,” the Notice of Preparation reads. “The EIR will evaluate potential shading impacts on sensitive uses (such as residential uses and open space areas).”

The Notice of Preparation also listed transportation and traffic as an impact area.

Through the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) and the DSP’s Draft EIR, City Hall hopes to strengthen multimodal transportation options in the Downtown area while also increasing development near mass transit and managing vehicular congestion.

Other areas of impact include climate change, construction effects, cultural resources, geology, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, land use and planning, noise, population and housing, and public services and recreation.

According to CEQA guidelines, the Notice of Preparation must be circulated for review for 30 days.

A public scoping meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 3 to update residents and stakeholders of the DSP and its environmental review process. The meeting will be held between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium’s East Wing (1855 Main Street).

Nearly 9,000 notices were sent out this past week to inform residents and other interested parties of the Oct. 3 meeting, according to City Hall.

Comments about the environmental review process may be submitted through Oct. 21 to Rachel Kwok of the Strategic and Transportation Planning Division. Her email address is Rachel.Kwok@smgov.net.

City Hall created a website specifically for the DSP, where anyone interested may find out more about the Plan. The website is www.smgov.net/pcd/plans/downtown-specific-plan/.

According to the Notice of Preparation, the DSP covers about 0.5 square feet of land at the western edge of Santa Monica. The DSP applies to the area bordered by Wilshire Boulevard to the north, Lincoln Boulevard to the east, the Santa Monica Freeway on its south, and Ocean Avenue along the western edge.

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