Improving Ocean Park Boulevard has been a community goal for years. Last year, the City of Santa Monica hosted several meetings to get community input on the best ways to improve the boulevard.At the March 4 Planning Commission meeting,, city staff presented two conceptual streetscape alternative designs that were developed based on community input and green street principles. The goal of these designs is to improve the boulevard’s walkability, bikeability, calm traffic conflicts at intersections, and address noise at bus stops. The City’s manager for this project, Peter James, explained that they “developed two designs to show what the potential trade-offs would be.” Both alternatives included sidewalk extensions, landscaped medians, new crosswalks, Class II bike lanes, pedestrian lighting, vehicular turn constraints, benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, and bus stops that would be relocated to the 4th Street overpass. Alternative A had more curb extensions, captures more storm water run-off and costs at least $700,000 more because it includes more curb extensions. The projected construction cost for Alternative A would be from $3.2 million to $4.2 million. Alternative B would enhance the view from the 4th Street overpass and maximize the green median’s identity. The projected cost for Alternative B would be from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.Those community members who gave input on the project favored Alternative A. The president of the Ocean Park Association (OPA), Mary Marlow, supported Alternative A because it would create a boulevard that is more walkable.David Och, who is also a member of OPA, told the Commission he supported Alternative A “especially because of its pedestrian benefits” and expanded capture of storm water run-off.Members of the Planning Commission were also very supportive of Alternative A but made some suggestions.Commission vice-chair Hank Koning praised moving the bus stops to the 4th Street overpass by stating, “It gets them away from the residents and houses.” He suggested they add benches and shelter on the overpass as well. Commissioner Gerda Newbold suggested having a clear differentiation between the bike and car lanes.Commissioner Gwynne Pugh noted that walking on “Ocean Avenue can be an incredibly barren experience particularly under the overpass,” so he suggested that anything that could be done to improve that experience should be a priority. Another community meeting will be held in May to review the latest refinements made to the project based on the suggestions made during the Commission’s meeting. A summary concept and report will then be prepared for the City Council to review and approve later this year. The construction of the project will begin in 2010.
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