Ocean Park Boulevard is up for a facelift-or rather, a street-lift. At a meeting at John Muir/SMASH School on February 2, the City unveiled its final design concept for the stretch of Ocean Park Boulevard between Neilson Way and Lincoln Boulevard.
The design concept is the culmination of two years of community meetings and input from many City agencies.
“We wanted to improve character and sustainability for Ocean Park Boulevard,” said Peter James of Community and Strategic Planning. He listed the projectsâ€™ priorities: to calm traffic; create new green spaces; reduce noise vibration; capture water runoff.
The final design concept, as explained by design consultant John Kaliski of Urban Studio, combined elements from two previous proposals, which were called “Alternative A” and “Alternative B.”
Alternative A’s emphasis was on “maximizing space,” said Kalinski. Alternative B’s emphasis was on “eating up as much asphalt as possible,” providing additional planting areas and more medians on the “hybrid” that took mostly from Alternative A but added some of the greening ideas from Alternative B.
Design features include widened sidewalks; enhanced pedestrian connectivity; visible bicycle connectivity with bike lanes on both sides of the street; increased storm water retention (using bioswales that absorb runoff and carry it through pipes underground into the planted areas); consistent pedestrian lighting (including overhead beacons at crosswalks); and the planting of a variety of trees on the new medians and sidewalks, as well as in planted areas called “pedestrian refuges.”
There are 127 trees are to be planted, including palms, seasonal flowering trees, and street trees. The tall palms, noted Kaliski, would be planted along the sides of the incline where the murals are painted. They would not block the murals but would add some greenery to an otherwise stark-looking area of the boulevard.
To accommodate the plantings and medians, some bus stops would be moved to other locations. The bus stops on 4th Street that currently are positioned in front of homes would be moved to the overhead bridge, which may also become a “viewing area.”
This being Santa Monica, the question and answer period that followed Kaliski’s presentation was fraught with concerns. Mostly, citizens were concerned about traffic problems, especially their ability to make turns when coming off Ocean Park Boulevard to side streets such as 2nd Street.
“Some people suggested the creation of a “traffic circle” at Ocean Park and 2nd Street. Others did not want a traffic circle but wanted a way to turn around when coming down the ramp from 4th to 2nd Streets.
James said that a “stretched barrier” would be installed at the foot of the ramp to prevent cars from making U-turns.
One audience member remarked that he thought the project was “great” and as for the driving/biking concerns, his take on it was: “If you’re driving, you’ll go slower.”
The final design concept will be presented to the City Council at its March 9 meeting. For more information go to www.smgov.net/planninggreenoceanparkblvdwest