Ocean Park Boulevard is proposed to be the City’s newest “green street.” The plan for a first phase, from Lincoln Boulevard to Neilson Way, includes bike lanes, street trees, landscape medians, and is designed so that it will capture the urban runoff from the boulevard and from the surrounding 55 acres which drain into its catchment basin.In Southern California, water quality and water quantity are inseparable. Our metropolitan area discharges storm water to the ocean in an amount equaling half of the water we pay to import. Storm water, known as urban runoff, makes it way off our sidewalks and streets, into the storm sewers, and through them out to the ocean, having picked up along the way the pollutants and bacteria that make Santa Monica Bay and humans sick. Urban runoff, if allowed to infiltrate through the soil to our underground aquifer will be cleaned of pollutants and bacteria in the infiltration process and will reduce our dependence on imported water and help us to better cope with California’s drought cycles.Combine our citywide support for cleaning the Bay with our love of cycling and walking, add a strong plant palette with lots of canopy trees for air quality benefits and to provide shade for walkers and bicyclists, and you have the recipe for “green streets.” The draft Santa Monica Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) states: “Streets are more than just pipes for getting as many cars as possible from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. As the City’s largest publicly-owned land use and biggest component of the City’s open space, streets and sidewalks must serve multiple functions beyond moving cars.” We ought to be able to get around our small city with ease and with pleasure, but that is not always so. Green streets will help. All our streets should provide pedestrian safety and a tree – lined streetscape designed to infiltrate urban runoff. The LUCE plan calls for a street hierarchy and plans a network of secondary streets which act as connectors between our neighborhoods and are designed for slower traffic than the arterial streets and safe cycling and walking. The Ocean Park Boulevard Streetscape Project will do the job.As project architect John Kaliski says, “Ocean Park Boulevard is one of the largest and earliest of the green streets in all of Southern California and we believe it will serve as a model for all the green streets we know are to come. The high level of community participation in the design was truly beneficial, and involving the community should be part of the model for the design of all green streets.” Originally a proposal from local resident and OPA (Ocean Park Association) member Bob Taylor, with the advocacy of the Ocean Park community, this concept now has citywide support. It has been reviewed and supported in community meetings, by the Council, the Planning Commission, and the Recreation and Parks Commission. It will go back to the Council, one more time, for final approval, and is planned for construction in 2010.
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