Santa Monica’s section of Lincoln Blvd. is up for “reimagining” following Wednesday night’s Planning Commission study session that moved forward with a grassroots-effort to see the busy road rebranded.
Currently a constant thoroughfare for trucks, buses, and work-vehicles, Lincoln Blvd. from the I-10 south to Ozone Ave. is dotted with light-industry workshops, car yards, and small businesses. It has been the recent subject of intense neighborhood input regarding its rejuvenation.
Spearheaded by the Lincoln Boulevard Taskforce, a collective of Ocean Park Association (OPA), Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP), and Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA), a research study for the Lincoln Neighborhood Corridor Plan (LiNC) was commissioned by the city in an effort to find an aesthetically-pleasing and user-friendly solution to the adhoc development that currently boarders the avenue.
“What we’d like to preserve here is whatever kind of charm or uniqueness, individuality, eccentricity that exists in this neighborhood,” commented Gloria Garvin from PNA. “We don’t want it to be erased and everything built up new so it looks like every other place.”
“Adaptive re-use,” added Bob Taylor from OPA, explaining how the suggestion of a special grant program for small businesses could enable the affordable improvement of shop facades. “This is a street that probably 80 percent of the people who come here from around the world enter. It needs to have a different face.”
The Santa Monica Planning Commission agrees, moving forward with the commencement of an 18-month community consultative process for LiNC.
LiNC will provide comprehensive framework for the overall enhancement of the Boulevard, weaving together phased physical design improvements to the streetscape, according to the commission.
“Policy and program level recommendations for balancing vehicle flow and demand while creating a more functional, aesthetically pleasing pedestrian experience that is supported and/or managed by the local business community and property owners,” the study states as its goal.
“Safe, clean, beautiful and green – in essence,” said Garvin of the taskforce’s requests. “More friendly to walk on, more trees, more greenery.”
The taskforce conducted a survey to identify preferences among residents and businesses for improvements to the street, land uses, and circulation.
In the coming 18 months, the development of a mixed-mode and livable street environment for pedestrians, transit and vehicles, as well as the ability for bicycles to coexist with other modes on this busy boulevard, will be explored.
Public transport and a complete look at BBB transit operations and opportunities to enhance ridership and efficiency will also be considered alongside parking, both on- and off-street.
“I’d like to see hop-on-hop-off electric shuttles for all local residents,” said long-term resident Dave Tann from OPA. “I’d like to slow down Lincoln; lit crosswalks, more benches out.”
Re-zoning is top of the taskforce’s agenda, as current zoning regulation could see a doubling of density compared to what Lincoln currently is now. One idea from the taskforce is to create a new zoning category altogether, with Garvin suggesting a shift to a unique “general commercial-Lincoln south” zoning as the avenue is unlike any other part of the town. Tann would like to see a historic Highway 1.
Lincoln Blvd. was relinquished to the city from Caltrans almost two years ago, a move that signaled a call to action for the taskforce.
Several local groups formed to provide guidance to the city at a community level on revitalization efforts, including the taskforce and a non-profit artist group Beautify Earth.
Both groups are staffed by community members; residents, artists and local businesses owners who voluntarily contribute their time to advocate for elevating the Boulevard’s image. They are hoping to continue to work closely and evolve ideas with the LiNC consulting team that consists of architects, engineers and landscapers, among others.
LiNC will also operate in sync with the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) vision for a more pedestrian-oriented and aesthetically pleasing neighborhood corridor.
“When you come onto an avenue there’s trees and sequential lighting,” explained Tann. “The lighting is a certain period, look, color, hue, warmth that make it feel like you are coming onto an avenue.”
Once complete, the plan is intended to be implemented incrementally as funding allows creating a high quality streetscape and pedestrian environment that removes existing barriers, expands accessibility, increases safety, and improves public health among all non-motorized travelers, according to the report.
More information on LiNC can be found on the Planning Commission’s website, visit www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD.