Community members had the opportunity to come to consensus on 12 transportation principles as well as the key programs and policies to implement those principles at last week’s workshop held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The workshop was part of the ongoing update of the City’s Circulation Element, which is part of the City’s General Plan.
The community began developing these principles at a workshop back in October, and the ideas will now become part of the framework for the City’s updated Circulation Element, which sets out the location of existing and proposed roads, highways, and other modes of transportation.
City staff developed workshop materials for the December 6 meeting. A key principle approved was “measuring the success” of transportation strategies in the City by “developing and adopting transportation performance measures that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the General Plan.” Other adopted principles included managing transportation and parking, designing streets “to support the places and neighborhoods they serve,” building and maintaining good quality transportation modes, and viewing Santa Monica’s streets as “part of the City’s open space and recreational system.”
‘‘Reducing automobile dependency” to help combat global warming was another approved principle. Anticipated benefits from fewer cars include improved public health due to increased opportunities for walking and bicycling, and creating an efficient transportation system to support a strong economy. Goals include making sure “the costs and benefits of transportation” accrue equitably and safely to all Santa Monicans, and “establishing a Public Benefits Program so new projects can help fund improvements in surrounding neighborhoods.”
The specifics for the principle of transportation affordability, which called for “reducing the costs of transportation” to make housing more affordable for everyone, was the most controversial principle during both the community and the Planning Commission discussions. What really raised eyebrows were the suggestions that would “require the cost of parking to be unbundled from the cost of housing” and “adjusting or eliminating minimum parking requirements [for developments] to account for existing diversity of households.” Planning Commissioner Julie Lopez Dad expressed her opposition. Unbundling parking would “fall the heaviest on those who have the least amount of income. It would create a market for parking spaces” which would “create a commodity that becomes ever more expensive,” said Dad.
Commissioner Hank Koning expressed his disagreement, and requested the City “study unbundling” because there are buildings where parking is under-utilized.
Planning Commission Chair Gwynne Pugh gave direction to City staff “to get to the specifics” for the approved principles.
The City Council is expected to review the principles in April 2008.