In the January 2005 FOSP questionnaire, the #1 “dislike” residents expressed about living in Sunset Park was traffic (followed by jet noise and airport safety concerns).
In summarizing their “vision” for the city, the most common themes in the residents’ responses were: reduce/eliminate homeless, retain the small town feel of the city, reduce traffic, limited/no growth, family-oriented community, make community safe/eliminate gangs, maintain/strengthen schools, make the residents the primary focus of the city, and improve traffic management.
As a result of the questionnaire responses, the FOSP Board took a position opposing all large developments unless the impact of traffic on our neighborhood could be mitigated.
On January 5, our Board discussed the alternative scenarios in the most recent staff report on General Plan revisions and one of our major concerns is that the staff report does not indicate how many additional residents and/or workers each scenario would bring into the city, and what the trade-offs would be.
1. The “Grand Boulevards” alternative would probably bring a large increase in traffic to Lincoln and Pico, which are the western and northern boundaries of Sunset Park.
a. Pico is already impacted by Santa Monica College, Trader Joe’s, and the afternoon rush hour, including traffic from office buildings on Olympic and Colorado. Commuters bring eastbound traffic on Pico to gridlock, at which point it spills over onto Pearl St. We have only three east-west “through streets” in Sunset Park (Pico, Pearl, and Ocean Park Blvd.) and they’re all congested in the late afternoon, as workers and students try to get out of Santa Monica.
b. Lincoln traffic is also a mess, and will only get worse as Playa Vista housing and office space is built and fully occupied (est. 80,000 additional car trips daily).
2. The “Uptown/Downtown” alternative would bring a huge increase of traffic onto Cloverfield, which is one of the major north-south arteries in our neighborhood. During afternoon/evening rush hour, it’s difficult to use Cloverfield to get in or out of our neighborhood. Some days, it’s impossible to get onto the eastbound 10 freeway, which leads to desperate commuters cutting through our residential streets in their attempts to get home from work. Additional commuters would make this situation worse.
Even in mid-morning, it sometimes takes northbound drivers 3 or 4 signals to cross the Cloverfield bridge over the 10 freeway because there are so many cars on the westbound 10 exiting at Cloverfield. The signal at Michigan backs traffic up both on northbound Cloverfield and on the freeway exit. At some hours, the traffic in the right-hand lane of the westbound 10 freeway backs up past Centinela to Bundy because our streets and intersections cannot handle all the cars exiting at Cloverfield. The city should not exacerbate that already-existing traffic congestion problem by adding offices, retailers, and discount stores near Olympic and Cloverfield.
3. Neighborhood Centers – 69 percent of respondents to the FOSP questionnaire were satisfied with retail services in our neighborhood. Those who favored change asked for more cafes/restaurants (28 percent , shops/boutiques (13 percent), and a book store (11 percent).
Regarding Ocean Park Blvd. between 16th and 18th (near Bob’s Market), 66 percent favored beautification, 56 percent favored improved signage for parking lots behind stores, and 48 percent favored improved street lighting.
4. Status quo – 97 preferred preferred down-zoning or keeping densities the same in the old industrial core of the city.
Regarding building heights, 70-77 percent favored maintaining the current building heights in downtown, on Ocean Ave. and in the old industrial core.
50 percent supported keeping residential areas the same but allowing modest growth downtown. In downtown, 56 percent supported more performing arts venues (live theater, music, dance), 35 percent wanted more resident-serving retail, 32 percent wanted to grow the tourist industry, and 25 percent wanted more restaurants. Only 14 percent supported more housing downtown.
Citywide, 73 percent wanted more open space/parks, 64 percent wanted more focus on sustainability, 53 percent wanted more bike paths, 42 percent wanted more focus on historic preservation, and 30 percent wanted more parking structures.
5. No growth – Again, in summarizing their vision for the city, the most common themes included reduce/eliminate homeless, retain the small town feel of the city, reduce traffic, limited/no growth, family-oriented community, make community safe/eliminate gangs, maintain/strengthen schools, make the residents the primary focus of the city, and improve traffic management.
85 percent of respondents favored requiring voter approval of large developments above a certain size if the city continues to approve projects that lead to increased traffic congestion.
More on traffic and transportation – 76 percent supported a city-funded Traffic Plan focused on reducing cut-through traffic in Sunset Park.
86 percent favored extension of the Expo Light Rail to Santa Monica, and 53 percent supported building some multi-family housing within walking distance of the stations. (Some have since suggested a stop near the Santa Monica College main campus, either in addition to or instead of Bergamot Station, in order to reduce college traffic.)
77 percent supported adding small, quiet, alternative fuel buses on some of the north-south streets, as the bus lines in our neighborhood with frequent service run only east and west (the #7 on Pico and the #8 on Ocean Park Blvd.).
60 percent supported running a family-oriented trolley along the Promenade, connecting with the Pier.
Regarding safety — Only 44 percent felt safe outside at night. Other concerns were the need for added/improved street lighting, gang activity, transients and homeless, unsafe areas near Lincoln and Pico, fear of (or experience with) burglary and robbery, and graffiti in the alleys.
Friends of Sunset Park