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Emergency Interim Zoning Ordinance to Streamline Housing Production in Santa Monica

March 11, 2020 11:00 AM

Emergency Interim Zoning Ordinance to Streamline Housing Production in Santa Monica

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – At its meeting on Tuesday, March 10, the Santa Monica City Council approved an emergency interim ordinance to amend the City’s Zoning Ordinance regarding procedures for review of 100% affordable housing projects and housing projects that comply with the Zoning Ordinance. The ordinance is immediately effective following Council adoption and will apply to housing applications filed after March 10, 2020.  

“We have already pledged to create needed new housing within our existing neighborhood-protective zoning ordinance,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown. “Streamlining certain approvals leaves the zoning unchanged but will make it easier and faster to get housing built and occupied, particularly 100% affordable housing. Our state is suffering from a housing crisis, and Santa Monica is committed to being part of the solution.” 

The interim zoning ordinance will allow for the administrative review of all 100% affordable housing projects as well as for projects that comply with the Zoning Ordinance up to Tier 2 maximums. Prior to this interim zoning ordinance, a Development Review Permit requiring a Planning Commission Hearing was required for 100% affordable housing projects up to 50 units and for housing projects greater than 30,000 square feet. To streamline the approvals for these housing projects, code changes were made to allow for an Administrative Approval process citywide. Preliminary design review by the Architectural Review Board will be required for housing projects using this streamlined process.  In order to ensure that the community is informed of these projects, approvals will be posted on the City’s website. 

Here are the key components of the changes:  

  • 100% Affordable Housing Projects: Administrative Approval is required for all 100% affordable housing projects, regardless of square footage or unit count, in all areas of the City. 
  • Market-Rate Housing Projects: Administrative Approval is required for all projects, up to Tier 2 maximums, that meet all objective standards in the Zoning Ordinance.  In order to qualify for streamlining, market-rate housing projects must agree to that the units are intended for natural persons as their permanent place of residence and must offer a one-year lease.  Applicants are also required to conduct a community meeting before the application is submitted.

The emergency interim zoning ordinance became effective upon Council adoption and expires after 60 days unless extended for a period of up to five years. The streamlined process will apply to any Administrative Approval applications filed after March 10, 2020, the effective date of the emergency interim zoning ordinance. If you have questions, contact planning@smgov.net.   

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