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I. Introduction

A. Specific Plan Project Description

The proposed project is a Specific Plan for the Downtown area of El Segundo. The Plan envisions a ten-year horizon for planning and development purposes. Although the Plan will not "expire" in ten-years, it is anticipated that the goals of the Plan will be achieved within the ten-year planning horizon, and that the Plan will be re-evaluated, updated and revised, if necessary, after ten years. The project includes a General Plan Amendment (GPA 99-2), a Zone Change (ZC 99-2) and a Zone Text Amendment (ZTA 99-5). The Downtown Specific Plan encompasses the majority of the Downtown Commercial (C-RS) Zone, as well as the Civic Center Complex, which is zoned Public Facilities (P-F). The Plan area is generally located west of Sepulveda Boulevard and north of El Segundo Boulevard (Exhibits 1-3). El Segundo’s Downtown is the heart of the community. Due to its location deep within the community and away from regional arterials, Downtown remains a small, distinct district approximately two blocks by five blocks in size.

The Plan area is currently developed with commercial, residential and public uses, and future development is anticipated to be similar in nature. The entire Specific Plan area is approximately 25.8 acres in size, while the C-RS Zone is approximately 30.8 acres in size. The majority of the lots within the Specific Plan area are 25 feet wide by 140 feet deep, 3500 square feet in area, although many of the lots have been combined and developed under common ownership.

In general, the purpose of the 0Specific Plan is to provide the opportunity to implement the Vision of the community for the Downtown; to enhance the quality small town environment that the residents currently enjoy. The Plan provides this opportunity by the adoption of new development standards, design regulations, and other criteria. The City Council initiated the preparation of a Specific Plan in response to concerns and requests from the community to enhance the Downtown environment that the residents value so highly.

The Specific Plan will provide land use and development standards for the area including, but not limited to, standards for heights, setbacks, density, lot area, outdoor uses, landscaping, parking, loading, circulation and signage. Design standards will also be included within the Specific Plan to regulate site development, street configurations, streetscape (sidewalks, street furniture, bus stops, bicycles), landscaping, lighting (street and pedestrian, decorative and security), architecture and signage. The Specific Plan is divided into five Districts, each having distinct characteristics and standards. Two related projects, which are currently separately underway, are the update of the City’s Circulation and Housing Elements.

The current and proposed development standards allow a commercial density or floor area ratio (FAR) of 1.0:1. An example of a FAR or density of 1.0:1 is a 3,500 square foot lot would allow a 3,500 square foot building. One strategic site, the City parking lot (17,500 square feet in area) on the northeast corner of Richmond Street and Franklin Avenue, in the 200 block of Richmond Street, is proposed to allow a 1.5:1 FAR. The Specific Plan area currently has approximately 560,000 square feet of commercial uses. For this evaluation, a ten-year horizon was used with an addition of 271,814 square feet of new commercial uses. This is 24% of the maximum 1,123,848 square feet of total build-out allowed by the current zoning and General Plan.

The current zoning allows a maximum of 276 dwelling units within the Plan area. This equates to one unit per 25 foot wide lot (12.5 dwelling units per acre), not including the Civic Center site. Currently there are approximately 82 residential units in the Plan area.

The final Plan will not allow the development of any new residential units, although the existing units may continue and may be rebuilt if accidentally destroyed.

Two locations for plazas have been identified. One is the existing plaza fronting Main Street at the Civic Center and the other is located to the rear of the Pursell Building, (on the northwest corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue), across the alley from the Grand Avenue District (on the northeast corner of Richmond Street and Grand Avenue). Plazas are intensively used gathering places and serve as the hub for neighborhood activity. They are designed to accommodate resting, eating, strolling and people watching. Plazas are typically ringed by restaurants, galleries and other retail uses. Food service and goods from portable retail carts or wagons are often available within plazas.

B. Specific Plan Boundary

The Plan area includes the 100-500 blocks of Main Street, the 100-300 blocks of Richmond Street and the abutting property along Grand Avenue. The alleys to the east and west of Main and Richmond Street form the perimeter boundaries of the Plan area, with the exception of the 300 block east side of Main Street as the Civic Center Complex extends east to Standard Street.

The Downtown is divided by three principal streets - Main Street, Grand Avenue, and El Segundo Boulevard. Additionally, three smaller streets- Franklin, Holly and Pine Avenues cross the Plan area, running in an east-west direction. Each of the three principal streets connects to major, region-serving arterials or freeways. El Segundo Boulevard, on the southern boundary of the Plan area, runs in an east-west direction and connects to the I-405 Freeway and to Sepulveda Boulevard. Grand Avenue, an east-west street, connects to Sepulveda Boulevard on the east and the beach to the west. Main Street runs north and south between El Segundo Boulevard and Imperial Highway, which borders Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Main Street has an 80-foot right-of-way with 12-foot sidewalks and 56 feet of paving, curb to curb. Richmond Street, which runs in a north-south direction and is one block west of Main Street, has a 60-foot right-of-way, with 10-foot sidewalks and 40 feet of street, curb to curb. The I-105 Freeway is north of the Plan area, immediately north of Imperial Highway.

Grand Avenue is one of only two City streets that connects to the beach. It is the principal east-west street in Downtown El Segundo and crosses both Main and Richmond Streets. The portion of Grand Avenue addressed in the Downtown Specific Plan is between Main and Concord Streets. Beyond Concord Street, Grand Avenue crests the hill of an ancient sand dune and disappears from view toward the ocean. Grand Avenue to the west of Concord Street has recently been planted with Cajeput trees to provide a visual welcome to El Segundo.

Grand Avenue is one of the widest streets in the City, having formerly been the early alignment of one of the trolley cars that criss-crossed the region before falling victim to the automobile. The right-of-way is 100 feet in width with 10-foot sidewalks on both sides and an 18-foot center median, including a 4-foot median and 7-foot wide parallel parking areas on each side of the center island. Parallel parking is also provided on both curb lanes.

C. Specific Plan Vision

In November of 1998, a Downtown Task Force of community and business leaders appointed by the City Council, presented a 7 page summary report entitled "Developing a Vision for Downtown El Segundo". In July, 1999, the City Council re-formed the Downtown Task Force to develop a Specific Plan and Vision Statement for future development of the Downtown area. The Downtown Task Force conducted numerous meetings, and at its final meeting on February 22, 2000 adopted a Specific Plan Concept Document, including the following Vision Statement. The Planning Commission reviewed the draft Specific Plan Document, developed from the Task Force concepts, and in May, 2000 recommended approval of the Specific Plan, including the following Vision Statement, to the City Council. The following is the Vision Statement for the Downtown Specific Plan adopted by the Task Force:

Downtown is the heart of El Segundo. It is the focal point for the community and one of the cohesive elements that ties the community together. The Vision for the Downtown is to:

  • Provide a better balance of uses.

  • Create a more thoughtful and creative use of public space.

  • Organize creative and consistent programming of events and public activities.

  • Create a consistent public-private partnership to market El Segundo’s assets to investors and customers.

  • Strengthen commitment to the strategic use of key parcels in the Downtown.

  • Create more attractive landscaping and street furnishings.

  • Improve signage.

D. Downtown Philosophy and Concept

The Downtown Task Force also adopted the following Downtown philosophy and concept, as part of the Specific Plan Concept Document which was adopted on February 22, 2000:

  • Service residents, local employees and visitors.

  • Maintain a safe and secure environment.

  • Maintain architectural and economic diversity with a mix of retail, office, service and residential.

  • Maintain and enhance pedestrian friendly environment.

  • Enhance the "village" character.

  • Enhance the "Midwest-feel" and the "Gaslamp" (San Diego) character.

  • Consolidate retail to encourage synergy between businesses and to facilitate pedestrian access.

  • Shrink Downtown retail area if supported by market analysis, converting non-core areas to a mix of offices and multi-family residential, to avoid the blight of vacancies.

  • Encourage a mixture of uses and "target" uses at strategic sites through financial incentives and pro-active marketing and advertising.

  • Encourage preservation of historically significant buildings on Richmond Street.

  • Enhance Civic Center Plaza, as the focal point of Downtown.

  • Continue to support and expand the farmers market.

  • Use design review process to achieve aesthetic goals.

  • Establish a Business Improvement District (B.I.D.) – 300, 400 & 500 blocks Main Street only.

E. Statutory Authority

California Government Code Sections 65450 through 65457 provide the necessary authorization for the City of El Segundo to prepare and adopt this Specific Plan. Hearings are required by both the Planning Commission and City Council, after which the Specific Plan can be adopted by the Council either by resolution (as policy) or by ordinance (as regulation). This document has been adopted by ordinance as a regulation. In addition to the Planning Commission and City Council public hearings, two Downtown Task Forces of community residential and business representatives held numerous public meetings and provided the groundwork for the Vision Statement and concepts of the Plan.

The Downtown Specific Plan is a regulatory plan which will serve as zoning law for properties within the boundaries of the Plan. All proposed development plans or agreements, tentative or parcel maps, and any other development approvals must be consistent with this Specific Plan and with the General Plan.

The Downtown Specific Plan supersedes other regulations and ordinances of the City for the control of land use and development within the Specific Plan boundaries. The Specific Plan may be amended to further the systematic implementation of the General Plan.

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