Many community members gathered at the beach for the first Santa Monica Beach Summit.
The goal of the September 14 summit was to give local residents the opportunity to suggest ideas and ways to make visiting Santa Monica beaches a more positive experience. This input is being sought by the City’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) as part of their effort to improve the City’s ability to live up to its brand promise.
According to the literature distributed at the summit, a brand is “a product or experience that has both functional and emotional benefits for the consumer.” Santa Monica’s brand promise states “Santa Monica…the best way to discover L.A.; an unforgettable beach experience filled with eye-catching people, cutting-edge culture and bold innovations. It is the essence of the California lifestyle.” Having a brand promise is important for the City because they want to be better equipped to compete for tourism dollars. This is vital to the economic health of the City because tourism generates millions of dollars for City coffers every year.
Summit participants got the chance to rotate to each of three groups so their input could be captured. Some of the suggestions made for better environmental stewardship were posting beach ratings at hotels, providing all visitors with beach ratings, having beach ambassadors and educational programs in schools.
When it came to improving the beaches’ amenities and services, suggestions included having lockers, natural interactive sculpture parks, basketball courts, umbrella rentals, retaining the bike paths only for bikes and designating quiet areas.
Input was also received for safety precautions. Recommendations included: better monitoring of cleanliness of the beach restrooms; having an increased police presence, including police on ATVs, on foot and horses; better lighting; a pedestrian crossing bridge; more access to public restrooms; and increasing safety measures.
A market research survey done for the CVB by Lauren Schlau Consulting found that “Santa Monica and area residents are frequent beach-goers, averaging one trip per month. However, 21 percent of area residents haven’t visited a Santa Monica beach in the past two years. Cleaner water and cleaner sand would motivate more Santa Monica beach visits. 30 percent of the respondents use the beach at night, and another 45 percent would do so if there was better lighting and security, more activities and additional nighttime amenities. These observations were based on on-site surveys of beach-goers, of which 45 percent were from Los Angeles County and 55 percent were from outside the County, and from 200 telephone surveys of middle-upper income households in Santa Monica and the Westside of Los Angeles.
Residents, city officials, business leaders and nonprofit organizations organized the summit.