Planning Commission Report

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1 Planning Commission Report To: From: Subject: Planning Commission Meeting: January 6, 2016 Agenda Item: 8-B Planning Commission David Martin, Planning & Community Development Director Introduction to the Local Coastal Plan Update Recommended Action Staff recommends that the Planning Commission review the information provided in this report on the process to update the City s Local Coastal Plan and provide suggestions for the public outreach process. Executive Summary This report is to introduce the Commission to the process of updating the Local Coastal Plan (LCP), which the City is undertaking over the next year and a half with completion anticipated in May The LCP applies to Santa Monica s Coastal Zone, an area of approximately 1.5 square miles that is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by Fourth Street north of Pico Boulevard, and Lincoln Boulevard south of Pico Boulevard. The project is expected to result in an update to the current Local Coastal Land Use Plan (LUP), certified by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) in 1992, and the City s first adopted Implementation Plan (also known as a Coastal Zoning Ordinance). These two document components will together comprise a complete LCP. The updated LCP requires Council approval, following which the plan will be submitted to the CCC for certification. Once a final updated LCP is certified, most coastal permitting processing would transfer from the CCC to the City of Santa Monica. Some of the key issues that will be resolved through the preparation of the LCP include: integration of City policies in the LUCE, Civic Center Specific Plan, Beach Overlay Zone (Prop S), Downtown Specific Plan, Bike Action Plan, Pedestrian Action Plan and Sustainable City Plan; development of policies based on new data and scenarios that forecast future coastline changes due to climate change and rising sea levels. At the meeting, staff will present an outline of the upcoming Outreach Phase of the project and will request the Commission s input and ideas. This first phase of outreach to the community and stakeholders will take place in the coming months and will be coordinated with community processes for other projects in the Coastal Zone, including the Downtown Specific Plan and the USC Sea Grant study on coastal impacts of climate change and 1

2 sea level rise, currently being managed by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE). Background Santa Monica s Coastal Zone Santa Monica s broad, publicly-accessible beaches extend along the entire length of the City coastline and the hugely popular Landmark Santa Monica Pier has been an affordable and accessible beach destination for more than 100 years. Santa Monica s coastal zone welcomes an estimated 5-7 million visitors annually. Santa Monica s beach and Pier offer a relatively low-cost family day trip, which will soon be accessible by Light Rail, and in the future, the City will continue to welcome diverse visitors to its shoreline. Local Coastal Plans (LCP) A Local Coastal Program (LCP) as defined by the Coastal Commission is comprised of two components: the Land Use Plan (LUP) and the Implementation Plan. The LUP describes the planning area s land use and environmental conditions, identifies issues and contains land use policies and maps and that complement adopted City policy and satisfy the intent of the State Coastal Act. The LUP must maintain consistency with the General Plan, and LUP policies and regulations take precedence within the Coastal Zone. The Implementation Plan, also sometimes referred to as a Coastal Zoning Ordinance (CZO) is a zoning document that contains the standards with which development in the coastal zone must comply. Once approved and certified by the Coastal Commission, the authority to issue coastal permits for most new development is transferred to the City of Santa Monica. The Coastal Commission would retain permanent coastal permit jurisdiction over development proposed on tidelands, submerged lands, and public trust lands, and would also act on appeals of local government coastal permit decisions within a certain area inward from the coastline. The Coastal Commission also reviews and approves any amendments to previously certified Local Coastal Programs. The City adopted its current LCP/LUP in 1992, but has never adopted an Implementation Plan, with the result that currently all development in the Coastal Zone must also obtain a Coastal Commission permit after all City entitlements are approved. Since 1992, some substantial changes have occurred in regard to conditions in the Coastal Zone, including the impending arrival of the Expo Light Rail Line and the adoption of the LUCE. Additionally, the Coastal Commission is particularly interested in ensuring that its new programs and policies, especially those related to climate change and sea-level rise, are incorporated into Local Coastal Plans. Santa Monica s Current LCP Santa Monica s current LCP was adopted in 1992, and due to some specific concerns at the time, including the passage of Proposition S, which created the Beach Overlay Zone with restrictions on new hotels and restaurants, the Coastal Commission did not certify an Implementation Plan for the City. Because of this, the City has not been able to administer the coastal review process, the issuance of building permits for properties 2

3 within the Coastal Zone is contingent upon the applicant first receiving Coastal Commission approval after City planning entitlements have been received. Although public beach access has remained a staple of the Santa Monica scene since the early days of cityhood, in the 24 years since the 1992 LUP adoption, many changes have taken place in the coastal zone. The Civic Center Specific Plan has been adopted, amended, and substantially implemented during this time. New uses have been added to the Pier and the Annenberg Community Beach House has revitalized the northern beach area with a public beach club. The Third Street Promenade and surrounding streets of Downtown have become more vibrant and economically successful and Santa Monica Place has transformed. Also, during this time, there have been significant regional changes in transit access, most notably the extended light rail system with the Expo Line soon to terminate in Santa Monica s Downtown, connected via the Colorado Esplanade to the Pier and beach area. Other transportation improvements to help people reach the coastal area have also been implemented including Big Blue Bus and Metro rapid buses, an increased network of downtown and Civic Center parking facilities, bicycle lanes and other facility improvements, Breeze bike share, pedestrian enhancements and wayfinding improvements. Taken together, all of these changes to the mobility environment provide potential for reevaluating the assumptions for coastal access policies and considering alternatives that are less dependent on maintaining or increasing the parking stock in the area west of Pacific Coast Highway. The LCP project will leverage investments in mobility options to develop policies that balance the emphasis on parking, which has driven past coastal access policies, with other access opportunities that ensure that Santa Monica s coastal environment remains accessible for the public to enjoy. This balanced approach reflects the City s general approach to achieving a more sustainable community and has significant implications for the protection of the coastal area by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, lightening the footprint of coastal visitors while improving their qualitative experience, and reducing pressure to utilize valuable land resources for automobile parking. Discussion On June 24, 2014, Council approved a resolution authorizing staff to submit a grant application to the California Coastal Commission to fund development of a Local Coastal Plan update. The City was awarded a Local Coastal Program Planning Grant in the amount of $225,000 on November 12, The grant includes funding for a limited term assistant planner, who was hired in September (Cary Fukui), and for consultant services. Following an RFP process initiated in August, Council approved a contract with Dudek on October 27, 2015, to assist in the preparation of the LCP. The LCP project is leveraging another important grant that the City received being managed by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE). This grant funds a 3

4 USC Sea Grant study on sea level rise in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas. This project has already made great progress toward developing a highly sophisticated model for forecasting the potential impacts of sea level rise, more frequent, higher intensity storm events, and cliff erosion that in the Los Angeles region that will inform the planning needed in Santa Monica in the immediate coastal area. The LCP Project Approach With the full team on board, City staff is actively progressing on the project at this time, beginning with a review of existing documents including the 1992 Land Use Plan and all City policies to identify needed revisions. An inter-departmental team is being established to ensure inclusion of all City activities taking place within the coastal zone as LCP subareas are updated and policies are proposed. By the end of January 2016, City staff will begin to provide information and gather input from stakeholders and the general public in Phase I of the public outreach process. For Public Outreach Phase I, activities are being planned to help the public become more familiar with the Local Coastal Plan in terms of: its scope and implications for planning in the affected area; the relationship with new data and output from models that project the impact of climate change and sea level rise; and the potential for a more sustainable coastal visitor strategy through integrated land use and mobility planning in coordination with the Downtown Specific Plan. The community outreach will be designed to provide a comprehensive perspective of the future access and use of Santa Monica s coastal area. Overall, the LCP update is being approached in a series of phases and tasks that provide an opportunity to develop project knowledge and understanding, engage community members in providing valuable input, develop policy alternatives, and document progress in draft and final documents. The project approach is still being finalized and is roughly outlined in the steps below for Planning Commission review. This project will require significant and frequent coordination with CCC staff throughout the process because of the requirement for CCC certification of an LCP. Public input is identified throughout the process, including with Boards and Commission at the initiation of the project as well as to review and provide comment on progress drafts. Task 1: Project Initiation project team formation, consultant selection and team kick-off, identification of key issue areas, define work tasks to address key issues areas, initiate CCC staff project meetings. Task 2: Data Gathering, Research, and Analysis of Key Issue Areas Initiation of research and existing data gathering, review policy documents, climate change research coordination, data research, analysis of key issues, develop LUP annotated outline. Task 3: Community Outreach on Initial Issue Areas and on Progress Drafts Outreach throughout project tasks and phases to include workshops, meeting with stakeholders, outreach to Boards and Commissions and formal hearings. 4

5 Task 4: Policy Proposal Development, in an Initial Framework of LUP and Implementation Plan identify policy options for LCP, prepare and release draft Framework for LUP based on research, alternatives and public comments; develop IP Outline and Draft IP consistent with the LUP. Task 5: Draft LCP for Public Review and Additional Outreach prepare internally consistent draft LCP based on Policy Framework, format for public review and focused outreach. Task 6: Final Hearings and adoption of LCP prepare revised draft LCP based on input and comment received, hold hearings to consider recommendations and approval with Planning Commission and Council, and work with CCC staff to prepare for CCC review. Schedule/Timeline The 18-month LCP preparation schedule is based on grant term restrictions that require all grant-funded activities to be completed by May Following the outreach phase, the schedule anticipates release of a public LCP Framework document by next June, to be followed by presentations to the Planning Commission, Task Force on the Environment, Council and possibly additional commissions. Administrative and final drafts will follow in FY , with additional public review opportunities. The LCP adoption process will take place in early 2017, to be presented to Council by May. Prepared by: Elizabeth Bar-El, AICP, Senior Planner 5

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