On Saturday, March 23, 2013, I went to the annual meeting of Mid-City Neighbors (one of the seven official neighborhoods in Santa Monica) held at the Main Library.
I exited the parking structure on 7th Street at about 3:15 pm, turned west to Santa Monica Blvd, which was solid with cars. Traffic was at a stand-still.
For the next 20 minutes I sat in gridlock traffic. In 20 minutes my car had progressed one block and a half. I live just south of the pier, and figured that at this rate it would take me at least two hours to get home, so I turned north when in another 10 minutes I finally reached Santa Monica and 5th Street
5th street was moving slowing. I reached Arizona, headed for Lincoln. Lincoln was a parking lot. It took me another 12 minutes to go one block on Lincoln where I managed to turn left on Santa Monica Boulevard. It was clear going east.
Downtown gridlock used to start at 5th Street going west. Now that Colorado has been closed, gridlock starts east of Lincoln. And it was locked tight.
On my gridlocked path, there were NO people walking. It was as if this line of traffic was sitting in a deserted City. It was eerie. But keep in mind that residents already know not to go downtown.
Also keep in mind that not one single building of the 35 development agreements in the hopper has been built. Not one. Only one street has been closed. And that one street closing has locked the gridlock tighter than it’s ever been since the City started engineering the traffic downtown. This does not portend well for the future of downtown Santa Monica as City planners and developers envision it.
I suggest they check out the conditions on the ground before they proceed. Everybody seems to think they can squeeze 35 more developments into Santa Monica and the world will just move over and make room.
Doesn’t work that way. When streets get choked with traffic, just one more car (just one) can lock the traffic and make it immovable. I suggest that the planners get out of their theoretics and go check the condition on the ground.
They may be in for a shock, particularly on weekends. When the light rail is finished, it’s likely more people will arrive via train, but as Rod Gould has acknowledged, the bulk of people from all over Southern California will continue to arrive — by car.
In fact, the light rail may do very little to alleviate grid-lock on the ground and wishful thinking won’t make it different.