The recently approved Santa Monica Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) has been selected by the California Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) as the winner of this year’s “Outstanding Comprehensive Planning Award, Small Jurisdiction.”

This award represents the planning profession’s highest statewide honor, recognizing outstanding community plans for their originality, innovation and visionary approach to planning.

The LUCE, which will guide city development over the next 20 years, has also won the Santa Monica Conservancy Award, and the Compass Blueprint Award for Sustainable Leadership.

Six years in the making and involving thousands of citizens and countless public meetings, the LUCE update of the city’s General Plan was unanimously approved by the City Council on July 6. The plan incorporates the community’s most fundamental values of conservation, environmental responsibility and social equity into the city’s official policies and provides the technical tools to implement them, city officials note.

It proposes actions such as reduction of vehicle trips, locating new mixed use commercial projects near transit hubs along the planned Expo Light Rail line and protecting existing neighborhoods from redevelopment by providing incentives for housing near transit. A long-term conservation plan, the LUCE promotes bicycling, walking and the use of alternatives such as carpooling, vanpooling and the careful management of parking.

The award will be accepted at the 2010 State Planning Conference in November.