A study of shared use opportunities between the Santa Monica High School (Samohi) campus and the Civic Auditorium was undertaken by the City last February due to the finalization of the School District’s Master Plan improvements for Samohi and the City’s investigation of the its next steps in order to comply with the City’s Civic Center Specific Plan (CCSP).
The study included a workshop last April to gain community input on possible shared use options that were organized around five issue areas. These areas were cultural opportunities, open space, education, mobility/access, and public realm.
Santa Monica’s Assistant Director of Community and Cultural Services, Karen Ginsberg, pointed out to the Planning Commissioners that a shared option plan would be greatly affected by the proposed improvements and changes for the Samohi site. These changes include opening the site at 4th Street and Pico Boulevard by relocating the site’s baseball and softball fields there and reconnecting Michigan Avenue so it would run straight through the campus and connect to the Civic Auditorium campus. The football field would then be relocated to where the baseball field is now.
Key options mentioned by Ginsberg included having a “cultural consortium” to establish a coordinated performance season between the Civic Auditorium and Samohi’s Greek Theater and Barnum Hall. Another option was sharing the 5.6 acres of the open space proposed for the Civic Auditorium area in the CCSP with Samohi.
Other options were having Samohistudent and community arts classes at the Civic Center campus. A suggested mobility option was creating a bike/pedestrian path across 4th Street, through the Civic Center campus, and beyond. Other mobility options were improving bus and shuttle service to the area and having shared parking scenarios between the Civic and Samohi.
Commissioner Jay Johnson pointed out that the intersection of Pico and Lincoln Boulevards, which is right near the Samohi campus, gets a lot of foot traffic from students and has been talked about as a future activity center in the update of the City’s Land Use and Circulation Elements. Therefore, the master plan for the Samohi site needs to take into account the impact of the Samohi site on this intersection and figure out how to facilitate better egress and ingress for pedestrian and bicycle use for this intersection.
After the discussion of the options, the Commission voted unanimously to recommend the “concept of working with both campuses as a cohesive whole is a highly desirable direction to be going in and to encourage further participation, study and development” of what they saw in the City’s presentation along with additional input from the community.