L.U.V.E. Defies Logic
by Rayne B. Holm, Santa Monica Resident
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of AIA Los Angeles.
The L.U.V.E. Initiative does not seek to better our city’s democratic process, which its proponents see as failing, but to circumvent it by creating a new system which would be logistically chaotic and economically ill-advised. Though it is unclear from the initiative’s language how often “major development review permits” would be voted upon, what we do know is that special elections are extravagantly expensive with notoriously low voter turnouts. Who will foster this financial burden? Certainly not developers, which would be both illegal and unethical- though developers who could afford to would be spending liberally to ensure success at the polls, creating not a reduction of money in politics, but rather an increase.
The authors reportedly structured their initiative after extensive surveying of residents, but this data has not been released. The narrow solutions to broad problems proposed by L.U.V.E. raise many questions about this survey: what was asked? Were residents aware of the many restrictions already in place in R1 and R2 neighborhoods, already limiting development which planners and City Council would deem destructive or out of scale? Were they aware of the current zoning code regulations, which are far more stringent than in most cities? Did opinions on development vary by neighborhood? Answers from this survey could be a valuable resource for Santa Monica, or else tell a story of incomplete information.
The 32-foot by right height cap (with state-mandated exceptions) which is so central to L.U.V.E., and which would supposedly still allow for buildings up to 3 stories along our boulevards, is an excellent example of the oversimplifications and flaws which the initiative is fraught with. The zoning requirement of a 15-18 ft first floor on boulevards and in the downtown, paired with the space required between ceiling and floor for structure and sprinkler assembly, leaves insufficient room for comfortably living, working, or even standing. Certainly these short upper floors would not have the height to take advantage of daylighting, a key sustainability approach.
What L.U.V.E. does understand is that there are ongoing communication issues between communities, cities, and professionals in architecture and urban planning. Moving forward, we must work together to make professional knowledge more accessible and to create more engaging educational opportunities, on more than just a building-by-building basis.
Limitation, the key platform of L.U.V.E., is not the answer. Experimentation is. Let’s continue to create a city that pushes boundaries, that builds market rate housing to alleviate our share of the housing shortage while funding a high percentage of inclusionary housing- a city that has a positive impact on its population and its region at large. In other words, let’s uphold the L.U.C.E. and say no to L.U.V.E.
AIA|LA received two columns on Santa Monica's L.U.V.E. initiative. To read the viewpoint in support of L.U.V.E., click here.