City Council Makes Pandemic-Era Zoning Changes Permanent to Support Business Success in Santa Monica

The City Council voted this week to permanently codify pandemic-era zoning ordinances which lowered many barriers to opening and operating a business in Santa Monica.

The interim zoning ordinances were implemented in 2020 on a temporary basis to support businesses struggling with unprecedented pandemic restrictions. These include:

  • Relaxed regulations on alcohol service
  • Reduced restrictions on restaurant size
  • Relief from multiple parking and loading requirements

These temporary ordinances have allowed our businesses the flexibility they need to cope with the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given how successful they have been in helping facilitate economic recovery, with no notable pushback from the community, the Chamber was pleased to support making these changes permanent.

We thank the City Council for giving existing and new businesses the certainty of knowing that these changes are now permanent.

Read More

Santa Monica Chamber Voter Guide

The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee and Board of Directors conducted a thorough review of candidates for City Council, County Supervisor, State Assembly, State Senate, and House of Representatives, as well as relevant ballot measures. The Chamber's recommendations are

  • State Senate: Ben Allen
  • State Assembly: Rick Chavez Zbur
  • Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: Bob Hertzberg
  • House of Representatives: Ted Lieu
  • Santa Monica City Council: Albin Gielicz, Lana Negrete, Caroline Torosis
  • Measure SMC: Yes

Read more about the Chamber's process and recommendations here.

Update on Parklets and Wastewater Fees

After more than two years of success, the City of Santa Monica has made outdoor dining and parklets permanent across the city. With this permanent program comes the imposition of fees, which the City had waived on an interim basis to help struggling small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.

The Chamber is aware that restaurants are being charged a new wastewater fee as they transition into permanent outdoor dining or parklet operations. These fees are applied only on net new seats, but are still proving a burden to many smaller restaurants and may cause some to close their parklets or outdoor dining areas.

The City Council has called for a study session to examine this and other issues related to the permanent program. We will continue to advocate for the best interests of our restaurants. For the time being, you can download the FAQs for the new Santa Monica Outdoors program below.

Download Santa Monica Outdoors FAQ

Sacramento End of Session Wrap Up

The California Legislature wrapped up its business in September, sending hundreds of bills to the Governor's desk. The Santa Monica Chamber Government Affairs Committee recommended positions on three bills that landed on the Governor's desk. Here is what happened to those bills:


Requires certain identifying information be made available in Braille and placed on shared mobility devices (e.g. bikes, scooters) to facilitate reporting of poor riding or parking behavior. Also requires each operator of a shared bike or scooter system to offer or confirm liability insurance of $10,000 per rider. The insurance requirement could be so expensive as to put these companies out of business.

Status: Approved by the Governor.



State law requires Metropolitan Water District to adhere to a design-bid-build process for its public works construction projects. This means MWD designs a project, solicits competitive bids, then awards a contract to the lowest bidder. This process is appropriate for most public works projects, but may be inefficient for time-sensitive projects. This bill would allow MWD to use alternative procurement methods for its time-sensitive, drought resistance infrastructure projects

Status: Approved by the Governor.



This bill prohibits a city from imposing mandatory parking minimums for residential or commercial developments within a half mile of a high frequency public transit stop. This is a reintroduction of AB 1401, which failed passage in 2021.

Status: Approved by the Governor.

The Chamber also weighed in on multiple bills that did not make it to the Governor's desk:



Creates a pilot program directing the California Department of General Services, in conjunction with the Department of Motor Vehicles, to allow 100% affordable housing at three named DMV office locations, including the office in Santa Monica at Cloverfield and Colorado.



Expands access to financial aid by creating a new grant for adult learners seeking to attend a high-quality, non-profit online university.



Extends California’s existing film tax credit program for another five years. Current law authorizes the California Film Commission to allocate $330 million annually in tax credits to qualified in-state productions. That authority is scheduled to sunset in 2025. This bill, if approved, extends the program to 2030. The author held this bill back to give lawmakers time to add amendments. He says he will reintroduce it next year and expressed confidence it will pass.



Modernizes certain aspects of the liquor license application process. Removes state requirement to mail a notice of liquor license application to every address within 500 feet of the premises. Removes one-year waiting period to refile an application, if an applicant withdraws the application to address a complaint.



Updates to statewide sidewalk vending law. Allows a local authority to impose the full amount of fines for the fourth or subsequent violations of sidewalk vending ordinances without regard of the person’s ability to pay.


Interferes with how music publishing companies and musical artists contract with each other. Specifically subverts a publisher’s right to collect damages if an artist fails to deliver contractually agreed upon music products, and applies this provision retroactively to existing record contracts.



Approved by the voters in 2014, Prop. 47 sought to reduce the state’s prison population through a variety of means, including redefining petty theft from anything under $400 to anything under $950. AB 1603, if approved, would place a new measure on the ballot for voters to consider. That measure would reset the threshold back to $400.



Creates a $400 million grant program, to be administered by the California Earthquake Authority, to support seismic retrofits of soft story, multifamily residential buildings in low-income areas or reserved for low-income families.

The Government Affairs Committee meets on the first Thursday of every month via Zoom to discuss local, state, and federal policy issues that impact our members.

Register for the next meeting here.

Submit your issues for discussion here.

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Linkedin