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A fight over density in Santa Monica's future

Shortly after Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a $13.25 minimum wage by 2017 on Labor Day, Santa Monica’s city council voted in September to study what effect a higher wage would have on their town.
Phil Scoville/flickr Creative Commons
A summer day at Santa Monica Pier.

Zoning in Santa Monica has become so contentious that it's the center of a city council meeting that will span two days, starting Tuesday.

The city is updating its zoning rules, last revised in 1984, to bring it in line with its vision for infrastructure, land use and transportation in future decades.

That's where a fight is brewing.

The proposed rules would allow for denser growth in parts of the city, especially major boulevards in Santa Monica's downtown. Future housing developments there would help address the region's housing shortage since more people could live on a single piece of land.

Buildings along Wilshire, for example, could grow to four or five stories high.

But that's much too tall for opponents of the proposal, like architect Mario Fonda-Bonardi.

"We're a beach-oriented community," he says. "We're a place where its essential character is low-rise. Not mid-rise and certainly not high-rise."

Fonda-Bonardi argues that large developments could dwarf smaller dwellings and single-family homes nearby.

Community activists have already been successful in shutting down nearby developments such as Bergamot Transit Village

The City Council meets tonight to get input from the community. On Wednesday council members will publicly discuss the issue.

The final ordinance will come up for a vote on May 5.

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