Council approves more flexible zoning for Third Street Promenade to accelerate economic recovery

September 29, 2021 11:09 AM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Last night, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved immediate zoning changes for Third Street Promenade that allow for more diverse new business types and greater adaptability for existing businesses. The changes are part of the City of Santa Monica’s commitment to support robust economic recovery for the three-block pedestrian mall under the Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan (“Vitality Plan”), a collaboration between Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM, Inc.), landowner and the city.

“Third Street Promenade is an iconic public street and meeting place for everyone and will be an important part of our economic recovery,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “In these three blocks we can creatively adapt both retail and public space for new uses, tenants and experiences that are both a magnet for our residents and a magnet for the region.”

The draft Vitality Plan recommends short- and medium-term policy and procedural changes to further promote the stabilization and economic vitality of the Third Street Promenade. Some of these proposed changes affect existing land use regulations, which are one of many elements that can contribute to a successful and economically sustainable retail environment.

The Council decided on the following changes:

  • Add new land uses for all three blocks of the promenade, including those suitable for promenade facades, alley facades, and upper floors. New types of business allowed include childcare, pet stores, hotels / motels / bed and breakfasts, medical and dental offices, and other personal services (see pages 5 and 6 of the Human Resources Report for a full list).
  • Optimize the approval of existing land uses by minimizing the applicability of Conditional Use Permits (CUPs), Minor Use Permits (MUPs), and other discretionary permits.
  • Reduce the minimum active ground floor depth requirement from 50 feet to 25 feet from the boardwalk property line.
  • Provide direct access to the upper floors and the offices on the rear ground floor from the promenade.
  • The main exceptions to the FAR calculations are roof uses outdoors.

The council issued the overarching instruction to prioritize public safety and cleanliness, including increased foot patrols, and to investigate downtown circulation.

Another key element of the Vitality Plan is to increase the number of community-based events, programs and activations in the public space of the inner city. To accomplish this, the council authorized the city manager to negotiate with DTSM, Inc. over the frequency of room usage, permit fees, revenue sharing opportunities for use of Lot 27 and Arizona Avenue, and the boardwalk sales program.

The City Manager will also negotiate an amended master service and license agreement with DTSM, Inc. to accommodate the existing and encouraging new uses and programming of Arizona Avenue, Lot 27 and Promenade for community events and activations.

For more information and the Vitality Plan, visit


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Constance Farrell

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Housing and business promotion

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