This article was being written as our City Council was spending a weekend retreat in Virginia Park addressing the City’s five strategic goals using “data driven planning” to solve “mobility,” “inclusiveness and diversity,” re-purposing the “Santa Monica Airport,” “homelessness” and childhood “education.” Shouldn’t they also be looking at “safety” and “happiness”? Are data driven decisions … Continue reading Who’s Listening?
Today our city is a built out metropolis with almost no vacant lots. However, if you came here 100 years ago, Santa Monica was mostly open fields. In fact the built out edge of the City had only reached about 11th Street with flat dusty open spaces continuing all the way east to the brand … Continue reading Respecting History or the Wrecking Ball
Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance and assure that buildings, structures, signs or other developments are in good taste, good design, harmonious with surrounding developments, and in general contribute to the preservation of Santa Monica’s reputation as a place of beauty, … Continue reading ARB (All Ready to Build?)
In this two part article SM.a.r.t. (Santa Monica architects for a responsible tomorrow) takes on the thorny issue of the optimum Santa Monica population. When we look ahead at the population of Santa Monica, there are conflicting views of how many people should live, work and visit here. Some people believe we have already crossed … Continue reading Simply Too Many People? (Part 1)
Santa Monica’s new DCP (Downtown Community Plan) identifies three sites as “Established Opportunity Sites,” although the addition of the word “established” seemed to have appeared from nowhere in the final version presented to the Council for approval. The phrase “Opportunity Site” only appears once in the Land Use Circulation Element (LUCE) of the General Plan … Continue reading In the Spot…light: Creative Zoning in Santa Monica
For this week’s article, and in the context of the Downtown Specific Plan, we provide a few thought-provoking observations by well-known architects and urban philosophers. Peter Calthorpe “Traditional urbanism has three essential qualities: (1) a diverse population and range of activities, (2) a rich array of public spaces and institutions, and (3) human scale in … Continue reading Urban Thinkers and their Words
In our built out City, there are six significant areas of land whose eventual development will have an inordinate impact on the future of our City. Development of these areas, if left to today’s “market forces” without considering the big picture. may result in in an irretrievably lost opportunity that could distort our City for … Continue reading A Six Pack of City Defining Areas
It appears that our City Council is in the midst of an identity crisis, our identity. They believe that both we and they live or should live in a different much denser urban place. They think they are working for those that would develop the City rather than those that live in it. If they … Continue reading What do we Need?
What makes downtown Santa Monica unique? What kind of downtown do we want? What is our vision for its future? Every city needs a “raison d’etre” – a spirit that draws people to go there and stay there. Will it remain a relaxed and friendly coastal community, with the warmth of local merchants, or a … Continue reading Keeping the Heart in Santa Monica