In an effort to prevent one of their busiest streets from becoming even busier, many Sunset Park residents oppose any Santa Monica College effort to turn 23rd Street, which already carries 24,000 cars each day, into a major access route to the college’s new Bundy Campus.
The City of Santa Monica defines 23rd as a collector street, and, according to its guidelines, traffic on such streets should be below 15,000 vehicles a day “to maintain acceptable levels of service at intersections and an environment compatible with residential land uses.”
Unable to gain signal-controlled access to the campus off Bundy Drive, college officials have asked the City to give SMC vehicular access to its campus from Airport Avenue, a narrow two-lane street that runs along the south side of the airport between Centinela Avenue and 23rd Street.
The 10-acre college satellite campus is in Los Angeles, which has balked at allowing Bundy Drive to become a major campus entrance.
Friends of Sunset Park, a neighborhood organization of residents, is spearheading the fight to prevent more traffic to flow onto 23rd Street, which becomes Walgrove Avenue on the L.A. side of the city boundary.
“Airport, 23rd, Walgrove, and Dewey all meet at the bottom of a steep hill in an S-curve, with limited visibility for turns,” noted nearby resident and FOSP Board member Lorraine Sanchez. “It’s almost impossible to safely get in and out of Airport Avenue at peak and non-peak traffic times.”
Eric Gabster, FOSP College Committee co-chair, said, “We feel that traffic from the new SMC Bundy Campus, which fronts on Bundy Drive in Los Angeles, should travel on major arterial streets, not on residential streets in Sunset Park.”
To date, Los Angeles has not cooperated with the college district’s attempt to route traffic onto four-lane Bundy Drive-Centinela Avenue.
The current college plan for the new Bundy Campus shows 668 parking spaces, which could generate 4,000 car trips a day. Earlier versions of the plan called for 1,225 parking spaces, including a 1,000-space parking structure that would have generated 6,100 daily car trips.
The City of Santa Monica is preparing to take back a parking lot located on the north side of Airport Avenue, which it now rents to SMC, in order to use the land as part of its new Airport Park.
“With the new playing fields, what steps will be taken to protect the children from the anticipated several thousand car trips a day that the college will generate? This was never discussed in the community meetings when the park was planned,” said Mitchell Block, who works at 3200 Airport Avenue.
Friends of Sunset Park wants the City to block college-generated traffic from the 23rd Street-Walgrove intersection with Airport Avenue.
“This is not about education,” declared Zina Josephs, president of Friends of Sunset Park. “This is about unbearable traffic congestion.“Using residential streets as a traffic dumping ground may solve the Bundy Campus access problem for the college administration, but that shows as little concern for students as it does for residents. Students should not be forced to struggle through dangerous traffic jams to reach classes.”