Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP), a Santa Monica neighborhood organization, conducted a 35-question survey in response to the City’s request for residents’ views of and aspirations for Santa Monica as part of its revision of the land use and circulation elements of its General Plan.
By conducting the survey and distributing the results to City officials, the organization’s aim is to ensure that the views expressed are reflected in the revision.
The land use element dictates the distribution of different types of buildings (housing, business, industry, open space, etc.), while the circulation element sets out the location of existing and proposed roads, highways and other modes of transportation.
FOSP mailed the survey to approximately 600 households, and distributed 7,000 flyers, and received 324 responses.
The Executive Summary of the survey results states that residents “are looking for the City and its leaders to begin paying more attention to the concerns of its citizens. That the focus needs to be less on the City’s image as an influential business center within the Los Angeles Basin and more on it as a community of residents. The residents want you to refocus your energies on the small-town atmosphere that we were known for years ago reminiscent of Santa Monica’s days as a beach community. Yes, we want to be an urban community that makes a difference in Southern California and the country but we do not want to give in to the pressures of growth and an expanding population and become like everywhere else in Southern California and the nation. We want a Santa Monica that is unique because it has stood against these pressures and not turned into yet another indistinguishable gentrified community on the sea.”
The report also notes that the two biggest issues “in Sunset Park involve … the airport and the college. Most wanted Santa Monica Airport closed down and redeveloped into parks and open space, mixed-use development, and a lesser number of respondents in housing and schools. However, a substantial number of people are willing to continue to cohabitate with the airport as long as the jet traffic is either eliminated or controlled to our satisfaction.”
Seventy-seven percent of the respondents “would support an enrollment cap at the college, and 81% of the respondents do not want the college given access to Airport Avenue for its Bundy Campus.”
Another major issue in Sunset Park is traffic. 59 percent “support the traffic calming measures that the City has implemented.” A larger majority, 76 percent, supports “a city-funded traffic plan focused on reducing cut-through traffic in Sunset Park.” 46 percent “of the respondents want the old industrial core of the city to be down zoned.”
When it comes to large-scale development, 85 percent of the respondents supported requiring voter approval for large-scale new development “if the City bureaucracy remains unresponsive to community concerns” on the question.
Addressing crime and safety, “Residents generally felt safe although noticeably less so at night (56%).”
Respondents also expressed an interest in creating “a town center of sorts in Sunset Park that is currently lacking [on Ocean Park Boulevard]…akin to Main Street in Ocean Park or Montana Avenue in the northern portion of the City.”
Seventy-two percent of those who responded to the survey favored replacing the current street trees with trees with larger canopies.
Another element that garnered strong support, 86 percent, was the Exposition Light Rail system. However, only 53 percent favored “a higher density development near the rail line.”
When questioned about the future of downtown, “the greatest support … was for more performing arts venues e.g. live theatre, music and dance.”
Respondents also favored more resident-serving retail in downtown Santa Monica and continued growth of the tourist industry. 50 percent were open to “modest growth in residential development” in the downtown area, but 86 pereent “were against the original proposal for the redevelopment of Santa Monica Place.”
Seventy-three percent expressed some concern about the issue of homeless.The survey results were submitted this week to the City Council, the Planning Commission, the City Manager and officials in the City’s Planning and Community Development Department, and FOSP will be posting summary-level results on-line in the near future at www.friendsofsunsetpark.org.