The elegant and welcoming gardens and park in front of City Hall are very busy this summer Saturday in the year 2025. A jazz concert is the center of activity, with people sitting on blankets on the lawn and listening to the music. Nearby, children who live in the Civic Center Village are playing a game of tag between the trees. The day is warm and clear. There is a view all the way to the ocean and the horizon. It’s a postcard Santa Monica moment.
To get to the park, Santa Monicans walked on wide, tree lined sidewalks, rode their bikes or took local jitneys. Visitors from really, everywhere, came by light rail; some to the park, some to the beach, some to shop at Bloomingdales or Nordstrom’s at Santa Monica Place or at the 3rd Street Promenade, and some to eat in Santa Monica’s restaurants. Others came along tree lined boulevards, by car and have parked their cars in a central location, planning to spend the day and to get around by walking, renting a bike, or by using the fun, local transportation.
Are you wondering if I’ve been reading too much Alice in Wonderland? In fact, I’ve been reading the Santa Monica Draft Land Use and Circulation Element, affectionately called ‘the LUCE.’ Produced by City Planning, the LUCE document was developed through a strong and deep process of public discussions and meetings with the community and with the full participation of all the City Boards and Commissions and the City Council.
As described in the LUCE, in 2025, our neighborhoods will look pretty much the same as they do today, each with its character and identity carefully protected. Our local shopping streets will have almost everything we need, making it easier to get our errands done without getting into our cars. Neighbors and friends meet at local cafes with outdoor seating. New neighborhoods have taken root at Bergamot Station and in the Creative Arts District. New development will be designed to protect existing neighborhoods and our historic buildings and places will be protected.
All neighborhoods, from Sunset Park and the Pico Neighborhood on the East to Ocean Park and North of Montana on the West, will be connected by ‘green streets’; with bike lanes, a substantial tree canopy, and wide and safe sidewalks.
Santa Monica has made the responsibility for environmental stewardship a core responsibility of the City and that is expressed throughout the LUCE. By 2025, through our stormwater infiltration designs, we protected the Santa Monica Bay and made it cleaner and safer for swimming and surfing. As a City, we developed systems for the use of recycled water for landscape and so our water conservation is very high. We changed the way people get to Santa Monica and we changed the way people get around the City and so have greatly reduced both traffic congestion and environmental pollutants.
This LUCE represents the dreams, hopes and aspirations of our City. Will those dreams translate to reality? Some parts of the plan are already in the works. Expo light rail is coming to 4th and Colorado and is planned to be here by 2015. Planning for the Civic Center Park is underway. It is scheduled to open in 2014. The green design for Ocean Park Boulevard from Lincoln Blvd to Neilson Way is in progress and construction is planned to begin in early 2011. Santa Monica Place will reopen, in August of this year, with Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales as its anchor stores.
But the LUCE is really a vision statement. The reality will come from how well we, as a City, can implement the vision. That will take real work, over time. It will take the continued actions of a concerned and caring community.
For now, please read, for yourself, the LUCE, available online at www.shapethefuture2025.net or in hard copy at all our City libraries. It’s a thick book. But it has a good, short, executive summary and is clearly divided into sections by issue and by area and so it’s pretty easy to fine the sections that interest you.
Mirror Contributing Writeropinion@smmirror.com