Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously endorsed the creation of an Exposition Light Rail Working Group.
The goal of the Working Group is to give input to the Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority regarding City of Santa Monica planning issues on Phase II of the Light Rail Exposition Project. The Authority is currently beginning the Draft Environmental Impact study for Phase II, which is expected to be completed in eight to nine months.
At the April 18 meeting, Commissioner Darrell Clarke stated that the Working Group would be “a parallel public process in the City of Santa Monica to talk in more detail” about where to place a station in the mid-city area, “the best way to bring people to the a station and where best to provide parking.” Stations have already been proposed for Bergamot Station and downtown. He also mentioned that, “The success of the project depends on supportive land use and good accessibility to bring people to and from the line.”
In Clarke’s view, the Working Group membership should include representatives from the public, the Planning Commission, Big Blue Bus, the business community and neighborhood groups.
City Council liaison to the Commission Kevin McKeown announced that Councilmember Pam O’Connor, an Exposition Construction Authority Board member, and Mayor Pro Tem Herb Katz, an alternate on the Board, would like to be appointed to lead the Working Group.
Ellen Gelbard, the City’s Deputy Director of Planning and Community Development, told the Mirror the Working Group will “need to debate the issues and come up with a unified position on what the City wants” that can be conveyed to the Construction Authority. She also said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will be the agency that applies for project funding, which is currently estimated to be $805 million. Possible funding sources for the project could come from the federal government, state sources including local bonds or existing local transportation sales tax revenue.
The City website, smgov.net, states that the project is important because it will “provide an important linkage from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica that connects key activity and employment centers” and will help relieve congestion on the I-10 freeway.
Working Group activities could include presentations from project-related experts and workshops from the community. The City Council will consider the creation of the Working Group and its focus and process.