The arrival of the Expo Line in Santa Monica has been a focal point for promoting greater mobility and a viable alternative to reduce the number of vehicles traveling within the city. Another beneficiary of the Expo Line: development.
With several new developments proposed or already under construction in Santa Monica, City Hall has made an effort to tie mixed-used projects to the light rail system, hoping those who live, work, and play here would get around town on the train instead of their own automobiles.
One such area where City Hall hopes to connect the Expo Line to a residential neighborhood is Memorial Park, where the light rail’s second stop will be located. A short-handed council unanimously approved Tuesday a contract allowing City Hall to hire a firm to look into implementing the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan and connecting the surrounding residential community to the Expo Line.
John Kalinski Architects will be retained by City Hall to “provide project management, urban design, land use planning, transportation planning, shared parking strategies, economic analysis, phasing and implementation services related to the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan.”
The contract, approved as part of the council’s Consent Calendar, is for $596,000.
“The Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan would define the land-use, circulation, parking, open space and building form criteria for the area through a community process involving key stakeholders such as neighborhood groups, local businesses, and property owners,” City staff stated. “The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) calls for detailed planning in specific areas of the City to achieve a sustainable coordination of land uses and circulation near transit in order to conserve established residential neighborhoods.”
Expo’s second Santa Monica stop in Memorial Park is the Colorado/Seventeenth Street/SMC station and is currently under construction.
Considered a “strategically located” area within the LUCE, the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan area is essentially located in the center of Santa Monica and close enough to public transit corridors to make the locale “a focal point of activity in order to conserve neighborhoods and proactively address traffic congestion.”
“The planning area is in the center of Santa Monica around the Exposition Light Rail station at 17th Street and Colorado in close proximity to Memorial Park and near Santa Monica College, the hospitals, School District headquarters and existing residential and commercial uses,” City staff stated.
According to City staff, the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan includes elements such as multi-modal access to the Expo Line station, shared parking, open space, and the “greening of freeway connections.”
The California State Strategic Growth Council (SGC), a group who, according to City staff, “supports sustainable neighborhoods through integrated land use and transportation planning, has awarded Santa Monica $550,000 to fund the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan project.
Council member Tony Vazquez pulled this item from the Consent Calendar to ask some administrative questions. Specifically, he was curious if the selection process for the planned artwork for the Colorado/Seventeenth Street/SMC station would be included within the Memorial Park Neighborhood Plan. City staff clarified the station design and the neighborhood plan are two separate matters.
The Expo Line, a 15-mile light-rail train operation, is expected to be completed in 2016 and will include three stops within Santa Monica. Construction of Phase 2 is already underway in both Santa Monica and West Los Angeles; Phase 1 of the Expo Line is already complete and operational between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City.
Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day and Council members Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer were not present at the July 23 meeting.