Text of the Measure
WHEREAS, the City Council wishes to place before the voters a measure that would amend City Charter Section 615 to require the affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council in order to increase a maximum height limit or floor area ratio specified in the Land Use and Circulation Element of the General Plan or the Downtown Community Plan.
Section 1. Section 615 of the Santa Monica City Charter is amended as follows:
615. Adoption of ordinances and resolutions.
With the sole exception of ordinances which take effect upon adoption, hereinafter referred to, no ordinance shall be adopted by the City Council on the day of its introduction, nor within five days thereafter, nor at any time other than at a regular or adjourned regular meeting. At the time of adoption of an ordinance or resolution it shall be read in full, unless, after the reading of the title thereof, the further reading thereof is waived by unanimous consent of the City Councilmembers present. In the event that any ordinance is altered after its introduction, the same shall not be finally adopted except at a regular or adjourned regular meeting, held not less than five days after the date upon which such ordinance was so altered. The correction of typographical or clerical errors shall not constitute the making of an alteration within the meaning of the foregoing sentence.
No order for the payment of money shall be adopted or made at any other than a regular or adjourned regular meeting.
The affirmative votes of at least four members of the City Council shall be required for the enactment of any ordinance or resolution, or for the making or approving of any order for the payment of money.
The affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council shall be required for the adoption of an amendment to (a) the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) or (b) the Downtown Community Plan (DCP), where that amendment would increase the maximum height limit or floor area ratio specified in any land use designation in the LUCE or the DCP, except that this requirement shall not apply to 100% Affordable Housing Projects as defined in Section 9.52.020 of the Zoning Ordinance and development projects on property owned by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District or successor school district in the City of Santa Monica. A vote on an amendment covered by this provision may only be taken when all members of the City Council eligible to vote are present. This requirement shall terminate on November 6, 2028.
Emergency Ordinances. Any ordinance declared by the City Council to be necessary as an emergency measure for preserving the public peace, health or safety and containing a statement of the reasons for its urgency, may be introduced and adopted at one and the same meeting if passed by at least five affirmative votes.
BALLOT MEASURE AMENDING CITY CHARTER SECTION 615 TO REQUIRE THE AFFIRMATIVE VOTES OF AT LEAST FIVE MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL IN ORDER TO ADOPT ANY AMENDMENT TO INCREASE THE MAXIMUM HEIGHT LIMIT OR FLOOR AREA RATIO SPECIFIED IN ANY LAND USE DESIGNATION IN THE LAND USE AND CIRCULATION ELEMENT OR DOWNTOWN COMMUNITY PLAN, WITH LIMITED EXCEPTIONS AND FOR A PERIOD OF TEN YEARS
This measure would amend the City Charter to, with limited exceptions and for a period of ten years, increase the number of affirmative votes required for the City Council to adopt any amendment to (a) the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) of the City’s General Plan or (b) the Downtown Community Plan (DCP), where that amendment would increase the maximum height or floor area ratio (FAR) in any land use designation in the LUCE or the DCP.
City Charter Section 615 requires the affirmative votes of at least four City Council members in order to adopt an ordinance or resolution. This measure would increase this threshold to require the affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council in order to increase the maximum height or FAR in any land use designation in the LUCE or the DCP. The measure would also require that all members of the City Council eligible to vote be present in order for a vote on such an amendment to take place.
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The LUCE contains seventeen land use designations. This measure would require the affirmative votes of five Council members to adopt any amendment to the LUCE to increase (a) the maximum allowable height or FAR set forth in any land use designation; (b) the maximum allowable height or FAR in the highest tier, where tiered development standards apply; or (c) the maximum allowable height or FAR set forth in any specific exception, such as, for example, exceptions for large parcels in the Single Family Housing designation or for projects that preserve a City-designated landmark in the Mixed-Use Boulevard designation. The measure would not impact development standards in the Healthcare Mixed-Use designation or the Institutional / Public Lands / Civic Center designation because the LUCE specifies that standards for those designations will be established by the Hospital Area Specific Plan and the Civic Center Specific Plan, respectively.
The DCP sets forth development standards for the Downtown. The DCP identifies six districts within the Downtown. This measure would require the affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council to increase the maximum height or FAR specified in the DCP for any of these districts. The DCP also designates a maximum height of 130 feet and specific maximum FARs for three Established Large Sites. The measure would require the affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council to increase this maximum height of 130 feet or the established FAR for any of these Established Large Sites.
This measure contains two exceptions: It would not apply to amendments to the LUCE or the DCP to accommodate (i) 100% affordable housing projects or (ii) projects on property owned by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, or its successor in Santa Monica.
If adopted, this measure and the five-vote requirement that it establishes would automatically expire on November 6, 2028.
The City Council placed this measure on the ballot.
LANE DILG, City Attorney
Argument in Favor
If you’re concerned about protecting the future scale and character of Santa Monica, vote YES on Measure SM.
For over a decade, the City Council and Planning Commission have worked with our community to craft land use standards for the future of Santa Monica.
Countless workshops and hearings have yielded a General Plan (LUCE) and Downtown Community Plan (DCP) that protect our historic residential neighborhoods while focusing new development, primarily housing, in the downtown and on the commercial boulevards.
They’re good plans, representing a balancing act between competing visions for our city. They allow the focused growth we need to thrive and to reduce our impacts on our environment, while protecting the character of much of our town.
However, during the years while these plans were being drafted and reviewed, all but the smallest projects required Council approval through a negotiated process known as a Development Agreement. As a result, many in our community began to fear that our land use standards were of little consequence.
To address those concerns, Measure SM assures that for the next ten years the votes of five Councilmembers, instead of the usual four, are required to increase the heights and square footage allowed for new buildings by the LUCE and DCP. 100% affordable housing projects and our public schools are exempt from the requirements of Measure SM. And Measure SM expires after ten years, allowing future City Councils to address potential changes in demographics, economics, and community sentiment with new guidelines.
Our community and local government worked hard to reach agreement on our new land use standards. Voting YES on Measure SM means we stick to our plan.
/s/ Ted Winterer, Mayor, City of Santa Monica
/s/ Anastasia Foster, Chair – Santa Monica Rent Control Board
/s/ Nina Fresco, Chair Santa Monica Planning Commission
/s/ Michael Soloff, Chair, Santa Monica Housing Commission
/s/ Dennis T. Zane, Co-chair, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR)
An Argument Against was not received for this measure.Back to Top