|Residents Stroll Colorado Esplanade Site
By Jason Islas
October 28, 2011 -- Santa Monica residents got a chance to tour and and talk about the site of the future Colorado Avenue Esplanade Wednesday evening, and they agreed that it should have a "spontaneous" feel and that the Pier sign should always be visible.
City staff, Planning Commissioners and the design team from PWP Landscape Architecture led a brief evening stroll down Colorado Avenue from 4th Street – the location of the future Expo terminal – to the Pier, while they talked about the site's possibilities.
“The Esplanade will be the beginning of an experience of Santa Monica,” said PWP Design Partner Adam Greenspan.
City staff estimate that up to 400 people every five minutes will partake in that experience as they get off the train, which is why staff said the design for the Esplanade has to be functional as well a place that conveys the city's identity.
Greenspan and city planners have been considering “scramble crossings” at major intersections, which would allow pedestrians to cross in all directions at once.
Other design ideas included widening the sidewalks and – since the Metro line will be taking away at least two lanes from the stretch of Colorado Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, which will make that part of the street one-way – the possibility of making the Esplanade one-way westbound all the way to the pier.
At the workshop that followed the walk, some residents wanted to take it a step further.
“Why not remove all cars from the Esplanade?” asked one.
Strategic Planning Manager Francie Stefan told The Lookout that though the staff had considered that possibility, they had taken it off the table as a viable option early on.
“Colorado is a pretty critical link in the roadway network. We still need to serve cars,” Stefan said.
Many of the ideas floated at the community meeting were very general.
Residents said that they wanted to see the Esplanade have an “organic and spontaneous” feel and that it should be “emblematic of pedestrian movement” in Santa Monica.
One thing everyone agreed on was that when people get off the Expo Line at 4th Street and they face the ocean, they should be able to see Santa Monica's famous Pier sign.
The design should be something that would “show up on a postcard,” Greenspan said.
Now with the community input process in full swing, the design will start to coalesce over the next few months. City staff tentatively plans to have a design ready for presentation to the Planning Commission and City Council by spring of 2012.
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