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LA Council member Bill Rosendahl Addresses Key Santa Monica Issues

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

November 4 -- It has been nearly six months since Bill Rosendahl, a former cable talk show host, was elected to the Los Angels City Council with the help of progressive factions from Santa Monica, a city surrounded by many of the communities he represents.

At his victory party May 17, Rosendahl, who lives in nearby Mar Vista, stressed the close ties that bind his 11th District and Santa Monica. “We embrace Santa Monica, so let’s love each other and work together.”

But since his runoff victory, Rosendahl has been at odds with the City over a number of issues, including student access to the Bundy Campus, the extension of the Expo Light Rail Line and the two bus lines along Lincoln and Wilshire boulevards.

The Lookout recently asked Rosendahl to look back at his first six months in office and discuss some of the issues that have sometimes put him at odds with the City of Santa Monica.

Q: The parking lot of the new Bundy campus has been going virtually unused. Meanwhile, with the start of a construction for a new City park, students can no longer use the lot. What are your plans to allow students to park at the satellite campus?

A: (Rosendahl pointed to a meeting he hosted between City and College officials where a short-term plan was hammered out that would open up Airport Avenue to student traffic in exchange for a signal at Santa Monica College’s Bundy campus driveway. The plan will be taken up by the City Council on Tuesday. See related story)

“I don’t have the ability to allow or not allow something when it comes to traffic, first of all. What we need is more cooperation between everyone that is involved. I am concerned about safety, however, and right now it is too dangerous for students there.

“The interim solution is to put in a half a signal, and right now the traffic guys from Los Angeles and Santa Monica’s traffic guys are looking for a long-term solution to the problem. All of this was brought up because Santa Monica College bought the land without working with Los Angeles or Santa Monica on this issue.

“The college decides what to do with that land, without first consulting Santa Monica or Los Angeles and this is the result. It was the City of Santa Monica’s dream of a park… for that land so that’s their problem with the college.

“A majority of the students come from my district that go to that college anyhow, and so we will work and support the college to that end.”

Q: Should the proposed second phase of the light rail end in Santa Monica. If not, why?

A: “Absolutely yes, and the reason being that Santa Monica has really been a leader in making the Expo Line a reality and they deserve to have it end in Santa Monica. But what I want to see happen is the Green Line (which runs from Norwalk to Redondo Beach) should be going up Lincoln and connect to the Exposition Line in Santa Monica.”

The goal, Rosendahl added, is to get a handle on some of the traffic coming out of the South Bay into the “job center” of Santa Monica. To this end, Rosendahl said he met with the South Bay Council of Governments.

Asked why he told the Santa Monica City Council that the Expo may not be ending in Santa Monica, Rosendahl said:

“Many, I think, misunderstood my intentions. I wanted (the Santa Monica City Council) to know that going to Santa Monica is not the only way to do things, and they took that as jeopardizing the Expo Line ending in Santa Monica. Santa Monica is a job center, and people coming and going to their jobs there is gridlocking our streets.”

Q: Urban planners and transportation experts agree that a rapid bus line to LAX would improve traffic in both Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Right now Santa Monica wants to extend a rapid bus line to the Airport, yet remains resistant to extending the Wilshire Boulevard bus line further into Santa Monica. Would you oppose such a line to the airport if Santa Monica still refuses to extend the Wilshire bus line? What kind of deal would you propose to get the buses rolling?

A: “Santa Monica wants to build a rapid bus line through my Lincoln Boulevard, but it’s Santa Monica that is causing the gridlock that flows from the South Bay.” However, Rosendahl added, “I wouldn’t oppose” the Lincoln line if Wilshire is not extended. “It’s not a quid pro quo situation.”

“My preference would be a light rail line along Lincoln…and a rapid bus lane all the way to the South Bay. Taking the (Rapid Bus Line) to LAX won’t solve anything, because it’s the traffic to and from the South Bay that is causing the problems.

“It not just transportation issues that need to be resolved. Santa Monica leadership needs to approve more housing… There’s no housing, but plenty of jobs. Now this is a huge issue for the rest of us who live around Santa Monica… So housing is part of the solution to the gridlock on Lincoln.”

Santa Monica, Rosendahl said, “needs to work with us.”

Q: During your campaign, you called for a Los Angeles representative to sit on the Santa Monica Airport Commission. What is the status of that proposal?

A: (Rosendahl noted that a Town Hall Meeting with Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution has been scheduled for November 10.) “We’ll discuss the issues there concerning health concerns generated by the airport, including wanting to put someone from our district on the commission.

“Shortly after the meeting we’ll be sending a letter to the Santa Monica City Council to open discussions on the subject, and then we’ll take it from there.”

Q: It appears that issues such as the Bundy Campus, the light rail extension and bus corridor proposals pit the interests of your constituents against residents of Santa Monica. How can you as a representative of LA still keep your vow to "embrace Santa Monica" and find a solution to these problems that benefits both cities?

A: “By pitting each other against one another we are not going to solve any of the problems that we all share, such as the airport, housing and traffic. If anything, we need to come together and tell each other each city’s needs.”

Rosendahl said that he plans to join the Westside Council of Governments, a first for his district, which already has joined the South Bay COG. “We need to work with the surrounding communities.”

Asked about playing hard ball with Santa Monica, Rosendahl said that the City Council and community leaders “have to clearly know that we have issues of cooperation that we need to resolve.

“That being said, we are now in 2005… and we need to look at what’s been given to each of us on our plate, and these are the issues that are on my plate. What we need to do now is go sit down, lower the temperature a bit and find our common ground.”

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