When City of Santa Monica officials asked the community to give input on extended-run cultural events to be held at the 1550 Pacific Coast Highway parking lot just north of the Pier, such as Cirque du Soleil, parking and traffic issues dominated the meeting.
The goal of the new policy, according to documents distributed at the meeting, would be to “create a flexible and responsive policy that will allow the City to evaluate and develop opportunities for the 1550 lot in keeping with broader community goals and benefits, while balancing community impacts.”
Community ideas for parking for cultural events expressed at the February 28 meeting were: shuttling patrons in from off-site lots, having a Disney-type tram with a predictable schedule, encouraging alternate forms of transportation to events, having a bike valet, providing shuttles for those coming from outside the City similar to the Hollywood Bowl model, and encouraging carpooling or coming in groups. Other suggestions included creating off-site parking nearby, such as utilizing the RAND lot, having patrons pre-pay for parking when purchasing event tickets, and lower parking prices elsewhere.
When it came to traffic mitigation for events, recommendations included placing signage on the freeway and continuing it all the way to the lot and having the Santa Monica Police Department provide traffic control at major congestion sites as well as at the parking lot.
Ellen Brennan, a member of the Pier Restoration Corporation (PRC), mentioned that “business on the Pier depends on the availability of parking at the 1550 lot,” so holding events there interferes with this availability. Ideas to deal with this problem included having promoters cross-promote events with going to the Pier, and having Pier businesses validate event parking to encourage patrons.
Lastly, is was suggested that flexible criteria should be developed to deal with different situations, and that promoters should be required to give a percentage of their gross profits to local nonprofit organizations.
Meeting documents noted that the public benefits that could be derived from using the lot for cultural events were “income to the City’s Beach Fund to support operation and maintenance of the beach and beach parking lots, implementing the community’s cultural plan, Creative Capital, which describes the community’s desire for more cultural opportunities,” and increasing City revenues due to increased hotel, restaurant, and retail sales.
City Cultural Affairs Manager Jessica Cusick ended the meeting by explaining the next steps in the process. City staff will “formulate a policy” which will be reviewed by the City Attorney. At their April 12 meeting, the PRC will then review that policy. The PRC’s recommendations will then be reviewed by the City Council at their April 22 meeting.
You can still give input by sending your comments to [email protected]