Draft Bergamot Area Plan Moves Forward

Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012, 2:10:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

It was not quite perfect, but the draft concepts for the Bergamot Area Plan were good enough for the Santa Monica City Council to unanimously recommend it moving forward at its June 12 meeting. Both staff and the council discussed office and open space, parking, traffic, and water, among issues.

Pushing to complete the project in time for the anticipated arrival of the Expo Light Rail, the Bergamot Area Plan is a revamped neighborhood featuring walkable elements, mixed-used development, and a “transient-oriented neighborhood.”

While council members were pleased with draft concepts, the 800-pound elephant in the room was traffic. The 104-acre project that includes a light rail train station, offices, and residences could exponentially increase the number of people in the area immediately surrounding Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street beyond normal limits.

The Bergamot Area Plan makes an attempt to address potential traffic issues by adding new or extending established streets, therefore creating a networked grid of alternate routes should Olympic Boulevard, for example, be gridlocked.

Berkeley Street and Nebraska and Pennsylvania Avenues would be among those already existing streets that would be extended.

Much of the gridlock may be created, however, by locals passing through the Bergamot Station area as opposed to those who make the neighborhood their ultimate destination.

Council members also considered conducting a study to determine potential traffic impacts and whether more housing should be added for those who work in the area.

Bergamot Station would essentially serve as a gateway for non-resident Santa Monicans who will travel into town on the future Expo Line, as the light rail’s first stop in the city would be here.

The Bergamot Area Plan, once complete, would alter the current land use of the neighborhood from industrial light manufacturing to a “mixed-use creative district” with a transit village to accommodate the Expo Line.

With the council’s June 12 recommendation, staff will move forward with conducting a series of studies “to further develop and refine the concepts presented” to commissioners and council members. Public input would follow.

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