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Santa Monica Planning Commission Praises Lincoln Boulevard Plan

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

September 8, 2015 -- The Santa Monica Planning Commission’s review of the preliminary concept designs for the Lincoln Boulevard makeover was a mostly positive affair last Wednesday, with panelists and members of the public favoring what was put forward.

This project, formally known as the Lincoln Neighborhood Corridor Plan, covers 1.25 miles across 17 blocks from the I-10 Freeway to Ozone Avenue on the southern border of the city.

It features plans for various improvements to transform an area that is a gateway into Santa Monica, but has been criticized for its lack of visual appeal and pedestrian friendliness, as well as being a traffic nightmare.

Commissioner Jason Parry called the plan “a real good balance” and Commissioner Mario Fonda Bonardi said, “Not enough good things can be said about it."

Richard McKinnon, commission chair, said he hoped the improvements could begin soon because “there aren’t too many places that have been left untouched in an unreconstructed way that are as bad as Lincoln is.”

“It’s the only part of our city that pushes people away from it because it’s so difficult to navigate and there’s nothing there when you get there,” he added. “Yes, there’s automotive [stores], but you wouldn’t spend time walking along that street.”

Project features include new landscaped center medians, crosswalks, trees and benches. Several commissioners especially liked the proposal to create a lane that would be exclusive to buses during peak hours in the morning and late afternoon.

Options are also included for connecting Lincoln to the city’s “bicycle network.” This includes converting a center turn lane into a two-way marked bicycle path or an eastbound-only marked bicycle path.

Other plans call for storefront facade improvements and curbside planters that community members can adopt and care for as well as a program with Olympic High School allowing artists to make street utility boxes more visually pleasant.

A long-term plan includes the formation of a business improvement district, where property owners or businesses would pay extra money on their taxes toward improvements that would be overseen by a board of directors.

A couple public speakers said they were concerned about how this plan could negatively affect the area. Commissioner Amy Anderson responded to this.

“There are concerns about how investment in public improvements can lead to gentrification and potential loss and displacement of businesses,” she said.

“But I think it’s also important to remember in transforming the quality of Lincoln Boulevard as a pedestrian space, to me that is a lot about traffic reduction and air quality improvement,” she added.

There have been well-attended workshops and other community meetings about the project. Those interested can find extensive amounts of information and share their opinions at

Another review session will take place before the City Council in November. A solid proposal is expected to go before the Planning Commission in January for a recommendation to the council. The council is expected to vote on adoption in the spring.

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