Electric Car Showroom Proposed for Third Street Promenade

Saturday, 13 Aug 2011, 11:59:00 PM

Parimal M. Rohit

he flaming yellow XPrize car won grand awards recently and was a huge photo favorite at the AltCar Expo.
Photo by Steven Lam
he flaming yellow XPrize car won grand awards recently and was a huge photo favorite at the AltCar Expo.

Visit the Third Street Promenade, buy an electric car. If an idea proposed by the Santa Monica City Council gains momentum, it may not be too long before an electric vehicle manufacturer has a showroom to sell its environmentally friendly automobiles on the promenade.

Indeed, a request by Council members Terry O’Day and Robert Holbrook to consider amending the Santa Monica Municipal Code to allow automobile showrooms and sales on the promenade was unanimously supported by the council at its Aug. 9 meeting.

“The amendment we are asking for would be fairly narrow in its construction. It would only apply to alternative fuel vehicles,” O’Day explained about the resolution request he brought to the council’s attention. “It would be limited to small spaces on the promenade and it would not include such activities that have real impacts with neighbors, such as repair facilities, handling of inventory on-site, and the like.”

If ultimately endorsed, automobile manufacturers would only be allowed to have showrooms on the promenade. Within the showrooms, manufacturers would only be allowed to conduct automobile sales. No service bays or other dealership-related activities, such as inventory storage, would be allowed on site.

However, even in such a limited scope, the item’s two co-sponsors believed that bringing automobile showrooms, especially those that would display electric vehicles, would revitalize a relatively quiet stretch of the promenade.

The possible showroom would be located on the northernmost portion of the promenade, between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue.

“It’s a space that’s underutilized right now,” O’Day said.

“The north block could use a little more foot traffic,” Holbrook added.

Council member Kevin McKeown chimed in that not only could the northern block of the Promenade use some more traffic, but also electric vehicles have a very promising future and would, quite possibly, be the very type of commercial activity to attract more people to venture to the uppermost region of the public thoroughfare.

“This is a part of the promenade that does need a jumpstart. These are cars that, I think, are to be very popular and very successful,” he said. “I think this is going to be a tremendous market for electric cars.”

Local activist Jerry Rubin supported the council’s action, lauding them for conjuring up such a novel idea that may produce tangible results in the long run.

“I think it’s an ingenious thing to do. I think people will be excited about this. It’s going to educate them environmentally,” Rubin said. “You’re opening up new territory here. It‘s so creative.”

Of course, it will take some time for this educational and creative idea to become reality, since the council’s action on Aug. 9 was merely to direct staff to prepare a “Resolution of Intent” to amend the Municipal Code to allow automobile showrooms on the Promenade.

Once drafted, the resolution would be vetted out and ultimately considered by the City’s planning commission. Should the planning commission endorse the resolution and the amendment to Municipal Code, it would return to the city council for hearing and final deliberation.

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