The latest in a series of Shape the Future community workshops was held last weekend at Santa Monica High School. The March 1 workshop focused on the community’s wants and needs in regard to transportation.
City Planning Director Eileen Fogerty told those in attendance that the City has conducted 12 workshops so far, this being the 13th. Community input from the workshops is to contribute to the LUCE (Land Use and Circulation Element) report being drafted for presentation to the Planning Commission and City Council.
“What we do is still reactive,” said Fogerty, “because we don’t have a specific plan.” She added that the idea of getting a comprehensive LUCE plan together will help “maintain the character [of Santa Monica] while enhancing the lifestyle.”
Jeff Tumlin of Nelson/Nygaard Associates, a consultant working with the City, gave the major presentation about the various sections of the plan relating to transportation and land use. The circulation element is divided into eight sectors, which were represented by stations around the Samohi cafeteria. These sectors were: “The Big Picture” (overall plan), “Land Use and Transportation,” “Bicycling,” “Walking,” “Transit,” “Autos,” “Parking,” and “Public Benefit.”
Tumlin went over the ideas that have so far been included in the LUCE text for each sector. For example: a reduction in the use of cars would lead to more affordable housing because fewer cars would mean that fewer parking spaces would be needed in the design plans for residential buildings, thus saving money and allowing more space for housing.
Some of the other suggestions in the plan call for unifying the City’s bike path network, designating the Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Pico Boulevard, and Lincoln Boulevard corridors as those needing the highest amount of investment in transit services, and emphasizing the enhanced pleasure of being able to walk or bike around Santa Monica.
Following the presentation, participants were urged to visit the stations and give input based on the excerpts from the plan that were posted at each station. (Participants who visited all eight stations were given “passports” good for a raffle prize).
Volunteers at each station answered questions and wrote comments on boards. Some typical comments, observed at the various stations:
At Station #1, The Big Picture: “Recent changes on Ocean Park Boulevard are creating too much backup for autos.”
At Station #2, Land Use and Transportation: “The Mini Blue Bus should focus on transporting students from the middle and high schools.” (Note: nobody from the Big Blue Bus was present at the meeting, a fact that was a disappointment to several participants).
At Station 5, Transit: “Lincoln needs more attention. What will it look like with a rail line as proposed by LA?”
After a lengthy period with participants giving feedback, the audience regrouped and the volunteers from the stations gave reports on the feedback they had received.
Feedback showed that residents want: more balance between the fulfillment of commercial and residential needs, a bigger role for bicycling in the community, the creation of walking routes and maps of those routes, more safety concerns addressed with better lighting at night and better walking surfaces, widening of sidewalks, pedestrian links over freeways, transit maps and information at bus shelters, more local shuttles, alternative-fueled vehicles and temporary car use (flex cars), and ideas about how to manage parking (some favor fees, some don’t).
The feedback from this and other Shape the Future meetings will be used to write the report that will then be evaluated by the Planning Commission and City Council later this spring.