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Newest Council Members Share Views of Downtown Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jorge Casuso

April 22, 2013 -- Tony Vazquez and Ted Winterer – who last December became the first two new council members in 20 years to take the dais after an election – are no strangers to Downtown Santa Monica.

Vazquez goes Downtown to eat and drink, take a stroll on the Promenade and visit Santa Monica Place, and he rides his bike on the beach bike path to get here. Winterer goes to the Farmers Market, visits the public library, attends meetings and shops.

“I probably visit Downtown two to three times a week, most often for the farmers market or the library,” said Winterer, who finished first in the November 6 race for four open council seats. “The farmers market on Arizona is my favorite of all our markets and an experience I always enjoy. Also, my daughter reads incessantly and always needs a ride to get new books.

“Sometimes I go for meetings, less frequently to shop at REI or Barnes and Noble and a few other stores, (though) I’m not a big shopper,” said Winterer, who served on the Planning Commission from 2009 until his election. “I also see a chiropractor at 4th and Broadway twice a month.”

Vazquez, who returned to the dais after serving as a council member from 1990 to 1994, visited the Promenade on a recent Saturday night to have dinner with his family. Getting there was rough; being there, fun.

“It was not a good experience getting there because the traffic was unbelievable,” Vazquez recalled. “But once we parked, the evening was great. We had a good dinner and then walked around the Promenade and the mall before going home.

“I also try to bike to Downtown twice a week — once in the morning during the week and once on the weekend. After going Downtown, I drop down to the pier and onto the bike path north to the end and then back all the way to Venice beach before going home” in Sunset Park.

Asked his favorite and least favorite things about Downtown, Vazquez responded, “The best thing about Downtown is being able to walk around or bike around and not feel like buildings are on top of you. The worse part for me is traffic and parking.”

When Winterer drives, he parks in the Ken Edwards Center or the City structures or the Main Library, depending on his destination. “I mostly don’t have much trouble parking at these sites, but I rarely visit Downtown during peak hours,” he said.

Winterer also bikes Downtown or takes the Big Blue Bus, usually the #3 line, which “can either be green, speedy and efficient or maddeningly frustrating.”

Both Vazquez and Winterer have similar visions for Downtown. They would like to alleviate traffic and maintain the character of the area, which is rapidly developing into a neighborhood that has everything.

Vazquez would like “to maintain Downtown's character as much as possible and come up with a better traffic circulation plan so we don’t have all these cars idling all over Downtown.”

Winterer would like to see “more housing, more street life east of 4th, better parking and traffic management, (an) enhanced pedestrian experience” and wants the City to “maintain the current scale of buildings.”

Asked what they would change of they could wave a magic wand, Vazquez would “eliminate the traffic in the Downtown area.”

Winterer would like to “add real-time parking availability signs at key entry points to Downtown to reduce hunting for spaces.” And he would “undo” the 2001 City Council decision to reject a Target store. “We need more affordable shopping in Santa Monica,” he said.

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