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Letter to Council Regarding Neighborhood Commercial Zoning

February 14, 2023

Council Meeting Item: 7-A Housing Element Implementation

Dear Mayor and Santa Monica City Councilmembers:

The SMRR Executive Committee urges you to protect the Pico Boulevard, Montana Avenue, Main Street, and Ocean Park Boulevard commercial areas from upzoning and overdevelopment which would destroy our locally-owned and local-serving retail and social gathering areas throughout Santa Monica and undermine our vital efforts to affirmatively further fair housing.

We urge the Council to ask HCD to understand our community’s unique needs and continue to protect these small-scale zones in our community from being upzoned beyond their current zoning designation. The Neighborhood Commercial zones of Pico Boulevard, Montana Avenue, Main Street, and Ocean Park Boulevard are vital resources that affirmatively protect and enhance racial diversity in Santa Monica. Many small businesses in these areas are owned by members of Santa Monica’s Black and Latino communities. Requiring Santa Monica to upzone and effectively corporatize these zones would make our low-income neighbors feel alienated and unable to afford having their needs met locally due to this unnecessary mandate for gentrification. It would significantly undermine fair housing, diversity, and inclusion to push out and displace businesses serving diverse customers in favor of upscale, corporately-owned businesses that would take their place. Businesses will get pushed out, and we will lose our diverse residents as well.

Our existing zoning code and the approved Housing Element create ample opportunity to meet our housing requirements in ways that do not destroy the special elements that make our Santa Monica neighborhoods unique and prosperous. Any housing capacity that was added to the Neighborhood Commercial zones as a result of the Housing Element process should be removed from those Neighborhood Commercial streets and placed in the Bergamot Area or Downtown instead.

In recent years, our Planning Commissioners and City Councilmembers have worked to protect these small-scale, shopping and social gathering areas from overdevelopment. A lot of time, effort and community-led decision-making has been put into our current zoning code. We urge you to recognize the work that has been done to strengthen the viability, diversity and prosperity of these neighborhoods. In addition, please support the Planning Commission recommendations to protect these zones by continuing to ensure live/work units for artists, creating displacement protections, ensuring storefront widths that promote small-scale ground floor spaces, and limiting lot consolidation to ensure that our neighborhood commercial zones are protected while still meeting our housing goals, and most importantly our affordable housing goals.


Denny Zane                                                             
Co-Chair, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights               

Mike Soloff
Co-Chair, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights

Published inAffordable HousingCity CouncilHousing