Council to discuss future of Downtown and Third Street Promenade

Council to discuss future of Downtown and Third Street Promenade

Original Article –

The key item on City Council’s Sept. 28 agenda is a plan to revitalize Downtown and the 3rd Street Promenade with an array of business and entertainment opportunities.

Downtown Santa Monica, which has long been the economic heart of the City, is in a transitional period due to the pandemic, changing retail trends and an uptick in homelessness. Store vacancies are unusually high, while visitor spending continues to trail behind pre-pandemic levels.

The proposed Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan, seeks to transform the area into a vibrant shopping and entertainment destination that offers a unique range of stores, arts outlets and nightlife offerings that will appeal to both residents and visitors.

The plan was designed by Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) in partnership with MIG consultants. City Council is set to both discuss the plan’s long-term vision and approve some preliminary zoning and license agreements to kick start the plan’s first steps.

Some of these zoning changes will allow certain businesses—such as childcare, pet stores and medical offices—to open on the Promenade for the first time. Other zoning changes will minimize the need for conditional and minor use permits to make it easier for businesses to open on the promenade. Businesses in this category include tattoo parlors, theaters and bed and breakfasts.

The intended goal of these shifts is to bring more diverse business types to the Promenade, including useful services for residents.

The plan also includes a wider array of community events, performances and activations. There is a proposal in place for DTSM to enter a new agreement with the City that allows it to run expanded programming on Arizona Avenue, Lot 27 and the Promenade.

Given a recent rise in community complaints about the safety and cleanliness of the Promenade and its surrounding garages and alleys, it is likely that councilmember discussion and public comment will also center on those topics.

Next on the agenda is the appointment of longtime City lawyer Joseph Lawrence as Interim City Attorney, because current Interim City Attorney George Cardona is leaving his position on Sept. 30.

Lawrence retired from his position as Assistant City Attorney in October 2017 after three decades of service in Santa Monica. He has twice served as Interim City Attorney and will be assuming the position for a third time with an hourly rate of $130.82.

The recruitment process for a permanent City Attorney is ongoing. This position has been vacant since April 2020, when then City Attorney Lane Dilg took the position of Interim City Manager following Rick Cole’s resignation.

Other items of note on the agenda include a City Manager’s report on the City’s economic recovery and a resolution change allowing for an off-leash dog area by the Big Blue Bus station.

Mayor Sue Himmelrich and Councilmember Oscar de la Torre have submitted a 13 item requesting that City Council form an ad hoc committee to make recommendations for the murals in the lobby of City Hall. In May 2021, de la Torre submitted a 13 item requesting the mural be temporarily covered over concerns of racist depictions of native Californians.

Prior to the start of public meeting, Council will meet in closed session to discuss ongoing litigation and negotiations. Members will be meeting with municipal employee unions to discuss an upcoming vaccine mandate and with the Santa Monica Police Officers Association to discuss an unfair labor practice charge related to the creation and powers of the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission.

If either of these issues are resolved it will be reported to the public at the start of the meeting’s open session.

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