Opponents of new SaMo Downtown community plan say it’s a “housing plan in name only”

Downtown Santa Monica (Credit: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.)
Downtown Santa Monica (Credit: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.)

Santa Monica’s Planning Commission is gearing up to vote on a new Downtown community plan, but developers and business groups are not entirely happy with the proposal.

While the city claims the plan will usher in thousands of new apartments to the area in the next 20 years, opponents point out that the plan does not actually increase the height limit of prospective buildings. In fact, it limits new projects in much of the area to 60 feet, or about five stories, down 24 feet from what current zoning allows.

It does maintain the 84-foot limit for buildings near the Expo Line however, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.

“The current draft [for the plan] is a housing plan in name only and we believe that if [it’s] adopted as is, you will not even get the meager 2,500-unit estimate that staff is proposing,” Carl Lisberger, an attorney and an opponent of the proposal, said at a recent public meeting.

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But the city argues that the plan is a compromise between the interests of NIMBYs and businesses.

“If you’re looking for a very careful, common-sense approach that will give us the horizontal city that we’re looking for and enough substance for people to build, these heights and these [floor area ratios] give it to us,” planning commissioner Richard McKinnon said.

After the commission votes on the plan, it will go to City Council for more debate. [SMFP]Cathaleen Chen