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City Council Discusses LUCE "Connectivity" Projects  

By Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout

April 15, 2011 -- The City Council took a look at city planners’ top priorities Tuesday as Land Use and Circulation Element bike, pedestrian and traffic projects get underway downtown.

The major question facing the city is “how do we provide the kinds of connections for pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as cars from the downtown and civic center area,” Director of Planning Eileen Fogarty told the Council.

Fogarty pointed to a section of the city that runs east and west alongColorado Boulevard from the beach past the site of the future Expo station at 4th Street, a strip she called a “no man's land” because of its lack of connection to other parts of the city, both north and south of the freeway.

One of the planners' top priorities is the Colorado Esplanade, which “is the key glue to hold together” all the new projects, Community and Strategic Planning Manager Francie Stefan said.

Stefan reiterated the importance of improving the bicycle network, discussed at last week’s Planning Commission meeting, as a means of reducing traffic downtown.

Many showed up to speak in support of a more complete bike network indowntown Santa Monica.

But “it's rather important to get downtown outside of being on a bike,” said Louisa Fish of the Commission for the Senior Community. Fish added that she would like to see more transit improvements in the downtown area.

“Transit is at the core of all of this. It deserves its own presentation,” responded Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, which has been working closely with the city.

One point of controversy was the suggestion of a bike and pedestrian bridge over Interstate 10 at 7th Street.

Council Member Bob Holbrook pointed out there once was a bridge there, butthat it got very little use.

“If we had it and they didn't come, why would we build it again?” Holbrook asked.

Tumlin defended the recommendation, saying, “In the past, there was nothing to connect to that bridge.”

“There was no bike facility on 7th Street at the time. And there was no bike facility in partnership with the school district on the SAMOHI campus,” he said.

Council member Bobby Shriver told Tumlin that until the council sees the price tag for the individual projects, it can't make an informed decision.

“The first thing we need to see is the price,” Shriver said. “It's not presented in a form that's easily accessible.”

City Manager Rod Gould responded that next month “we plan to come to the council and community with … clear price tags attached.”


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