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Downtown Santa Monica as seen looking northwest atop Parking Structure No. 5.
Photo by Christopher Rosacker
Downtown Santa Monica as seen looking northwest atop Parking Structure No. 5.

News, City Council, Downtown, Transportation, Santa Monica, Exposition Light Rail, Land Use And Circulation Element (luce), Biking

City Discusses Downtown Traffic Improvement

Posted Apr. 13, 2011, 1:49 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

The Santa Monica City Council extensively discussed improving traffic circulation in the downtown and civic center areas at its April 15 meeting at City Hall, as the elected board brainstormed for about two hours on how best to move forward with its plans to better traffic flow in some of the most congested areas in the city.

One issue extensively hashed out was design improvements to automobile, bicycle, and foot circulation within the city in light of the anticipated arrival of the Exposition Light Rail Line (Expo) and the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).

“The success of the Downtown and Civic Center relies on the strength and connectivity of pedestrian, vehicle, bicycle, and transit networks,” Planning Director Eileen Fogarty stated in the staff report.

“We felt it was important to lay out how all of this ties together,” she added during her presentation to the council.

In that vein, one Santa Monica resident hoped the council would come to terms about a substantial bicycle plan promoting increased usage of the two-wheeled non-motorized vehicles sooner – rather than later.

“I’d like to be able to … bicycle in Santa Monica and not drive out of Santa Monica to spend my money. In order for me to do that, I have to be able to see integrated steps to make (biking) safer,” resident Dee Capelli said, pushing for additional bike lanes, improved signage, and driver and cyclist education. “Seeing police on bikes says, to me … bicycles are a welcome presence and an important part of the city.”

Council member Bobby Shriver was concerned about cost. While certain financial figures were mentioned throughout the staff report and the amount of $20 million was mentioned during the back-and-forth between the council and staff, Shriver opined that a study session discussion on this or any issues would be incomplete and potentially a waste of time without a cohesive summary of planned expenditures.

“The first thing we have to see is the price. It’s not presented in a form that is easily accessible,” Shriver said. “I understand this is an ideation process, (but) you can’t have an ideation process without the cost. Do we have the money to cap the freeway? The answer is, we all know, is no. Why are we having a discussion about capping the freeway?”

City Manager Rod Gould replied the circulation issue was merely brought up as a discussion item in an attempt to determine how to best provide a budget for whatever course of action the Council would ultimately take, and the next time this issue would be brought to the elected board would probably be inclusive of financial forecasts.

Just the same, Mayor Richard Bloom said the circulation issues discussed during the study session are key to improving the downtown area as a whole.

“We clearly have limited resources, that is why we are prioritizing (but) … (o)verall, I think this is just an excellent plan. Going forward on both the short term and … long term recommendations is truly going to transform our downtown in great ways,” Bloom stated.

Fogarty added that the area between downtown and civic center may negatively affect circulation due to lack of significant activity in that small space.

“We will not get the kind of return on investment from the … public and private (capital) projects if we can’t connect them. We will have unnecessary traffic if we have created other ways for people to get between the two areas,” she said.

The April 12 study session was spawned from an effort to better enhance traffic efficiency in downtown, and nearly two years of discussions concerning circulation, the development and arrival of Expo, and the anticipated increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic by 2015.

Projects to be directly affected by the council’s study session include the Colorado Esplanade, bicycle improvements, and a network gap-filler project that would strengthen a “critical pedestrian and vehicle connection near the I-10 freeway.”

Council member Kevin McKeown was not present at the April 12 meeting.

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Comments

Apr. 13, 2011, 5:57:13 am

Stephen Hargrove said...

Having hung around Santa Monica since the 50's, when will the Council ever admit that the city's soul has been systematically sold to the devil by overdevelopment as each year goes by? And now you say that the city has "limited resources"? Limited in what way? Trying to keep up with supporting the overdevelopment? Isn't it about time to rethink the entire game plan?

Apr. 13, 2011, 6:48:32 am

Driven said...

Stephen, over-development does even BEGIN to describe the ridiculousness......SM and SoCal in general needs to look at Miami for direction. The traffic control here is a joke.....no timed lights, cross-walks on BOTH sides in places where it backs up traffic for blocks b/c no one can turn left....Duh, it doesn't take a genius to have all pedestrian traffic crossing Ocean to cross on the NORTH side b/c North turning cars can turn right when it's red, when the South way is blocked by peds the whole time, no one can turn left and traffic backs up, this ISN'T rocket science, as for I-10.....look at Miami, put the Orange lane blockers in so people can't cut over(to get on the 405 or others) in the last mile and then the left lanes are much more clear for through traffic.....seriously, that would help traffic so d*** much.....this really ISN'T that hard.....and triple the texting while driving fine....good money for the state and a boost to traffic, tired of being behind someone in the LEFT lane doing 5-10 under b/c they're jacking with their phone.....thanks for backing up traffic idiots.....

Apr. 13, 2011, 10:12:00 am

m said...

Interesting considering today is the 13th and the 15th isnt til lfriday i guess this is a prediction of the discussion?...: The Santa Monica City Council extensively discussed improving circulation in the downtown and civic center areas at its April 15 meeting at City Hall

Apr. 13, 2011, 1:22:01 pm

ib jensen said...

Why do you look to europe for answers, many cities have figured it out, like Copenhagen, Amsterdam etc. I is a cheaper way of getting information

Apr. 14, 2011, 6:54:42 am

kovar said...

The most inexpensive way to solve the traffic in downtown Santa Monica is the cost of a ONE WAY SIGN for each street. Chicago did this decades ago and had the worst congested traffic in the country or did have the most.

Apr. 15, 2011, 12:04:37 pm

Dee Cappelli said...

Besides the comments I offered at the City Council meeting, I'd like to suggest diagonal crosswalks like Bev. Hills has in their retail area. All the pedestrians walk, in any direction to cross the street when they have the light. Otherwise, no pedestrians cross while cars wait for them.

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