Council Upzones Promenade
October 7, 2021
By Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer
Hoping to revitalize its world-renowned, open-air shopping center, the Santa Monica City Council this week unanimously approved zoning changes for the Third Street Promenade that will allow new and varied businesses and "greater adaptability for existing businesses."
"The Promenade can't be the land of $20 burgers," said Councilmember Phil Brock, urging his colleagues to consider all types of businesses, including fast-food restaurants, for the three-block pedestrian street to attract more shoppers.
At its Tuesday night's meeting, the Council passed the Third Street Promenade "Vitality Plan" which details short-term and long-term policies and procedural changes related existing land use regulations "to continue promoting the stabilization and economic vitality of the Promenade."
The changes approved by Council include: adding new land uses for all three blocks of the Promenade, allowing new business types – such as childcare, pet stores, hotel/motel/bed and breakfast, medical and dental offices and other personal services – and streamlining the permits for existing land uses.
"The Third Street Promenade is an iconic public street and gathering place meant for all to enjoy, and it will be an important component of our economic recovery," said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. "In these three blocks, we can creatively adapt both the retail and public spaces for new uses, tenants, and experiences that are a magnet for our local residents and a draw for the region as well."
Another element of the "Vitality Plan" – a collaboration between Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM, Inc.), property owners, and the city – calls for the increase in the number of community events, programs, and activities in downtown public areas, said city staff in its report.
Following a spirited debate on the revitalization plan, the Council directed staff to prioritize public safety and cleanliness, including increased foot patrols, and to study circulation patters in the Downtown area.
"We want to improve people's perception...Downtown is safe," said Councilmember Gleam Davis.
The Council also authorized the City Manager to negotiate a Master Services and License Agreement with DTSM, Inc. to encourage new types of uses and programming of Arizona Avenue, Lot 27, and Promenade for community events and activities.