Santa Monica, California, population 91,411 (2018), borders the Pacific Ocean, 15 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. In 2013, the city adopted the Bergamot Area Plan aimed at revitalizing a former industrial area into a sustainable neighborhood that preserves its creative district character and capitalizes on the completion of the Expo Light Rail Line connecting Santa Monica with Downtown Los Angeles. The plan includes a transfer mechanism allowing receiving site projects to achieve higher development potential by providing community benefits that exceed basic regulations, impact fees, and environmental mitigation measures.
Some of these community benefits can be provided on the development site but some can be provided at offsite locations as depicted in the plan’s Table 8.1: street network improvements; open space; community facilities such as childcare, senior center, meeting space; mobility support (such as Transportation Demand Management funding, bus stops, bikeshare); arts and culture (including non-profit galleries and public art); economic sustainability (including affordable housing, workforce housing, creative workspace, and creative enterprise incubator); and electrical undergrounding.
Development sites can attain Tier I levels of development by complying with basic regulations, impact fees, and environmental mitigation measures. Tier II and Tier III standards apply when developers contribute community benefits that exceed basic requirements. Table 5.03 Development Standards of the Bergamot Area Plan show Tier I, II, and III levels of development in four subareas: Bergamot Transit Village, Conservation Art Center, Mixed-Use Creative, and Conservation: Creative Section. Developers can propose community benefits to advance to a higher tier in ten categories of development standards: height, FAR, use mix, building modulation, maximum floor plate, percent open space, minimum size of all open space, minimum size of primary open space, minimum depth/maximum width of non-office commercial, maximum size of non-office commercial, and parking standards. For example, in the Bergamot Transit Village Subarea, a parcel is allowed a standard FAR of 1.75 in Tier I by complying with basic requirements but can provide community benefits in order to attain a Tier II FAR 2.0 or a Tier III FAR 2.5.