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Santa Monica Really Wants to Make It Easy for You to Go Multimodal

As part of the GoSaMo campaign, local businesses will be encouraged to put decals in their store windows to show customers and passersby the nearest transit option (all images courtesy of the city of Santa Monica).

As part of the GoSaMo campaign, local businesses will be encouraged to put decals in their store windows to show customers and passersby the nearest transit option (all images courtesy of the city of Santa Monica).

Santa Monica is an embarrassment of riches in many ways. That is especially true when it comes to alternatives to driving everywhere.

And now, the city wants to make it as easy as possible for you to discover how you can go multimodal and take advantage of Santa Monica’s growing network of transportation options.

“It was our goal to make integration between our existing transportation networks seamless with the arrival of Expo,” Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez said in a press release issued Wednesday announcing the launch of the city’s “GoSaMo” initiative.

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Maps on the GoSaMo website show visitors what is in the vicinity of the Expo stations and how long it takes to get to the various local businesses by bus, bike, or walking.

“To really address mobility, it had to be about so much more than Expo. We want to make Santa Monica the leading example of pedestrian and transit-oriented lifestyles in Southern California,” he said.

GoSaMo is a multipronged approach designed to get people educated about and interested in the variety of transportation options available to them in the city of Santa Monica.

The launch of the initiative is happening concurrently with perhaps one of the biggest changes to transportation on the Westside since the I-10 freeway opened about a half-century ago: the grand opening of the Expo line extension to Downtown Santa Monica.

The 6.6-mile extension of the light rail, which opens on May 20, will bring passenger trains back to the Westside for the first time since 1953 and there has been plenty of attention paid to the historic moment.

While Expo is the single biggest change to Westside transportation in recent years, GoSaMo is about making sure people are aware of all the other options available to them as well:

“GoSaMo highlights and raises awareness about Santa Monica’s expanded mobility options—three Expo Light Rail stations, six new Big Blue Bus routes on top of its seven Rapid Bus lines, 75 Breeze Bike Share stations, 107 miles of bikeways, 12 new all-way [scramble] crosswalks, new Zipcar additions, and the Colorado Esplanade opening on June 5th in conjunction with the city’s first open streets event, Coast — presented by Metro,” staff said.

Santa Monica’s Strategic Planning and Transportation Manager Francie Stefan put it succinctly at a morning meeting with community members Wednesday: “It’s about options,” she said.  Read more…

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Santa Monica’s First Open Streets Festival Set for June 5

(There are six more open streets festivals coming up April through June 2016. See this earlier CicLAvia article for listings for Lawndale, Southeast Cities, Downey, and two San Gabriel Valley events!)

A map of the route for Santa Monica's planned June 5 open streets event.

A map of the route for Santa Monica’s planned June 5 open streets event.

Santa Monica is preparing for its first open streets event, during which a 1.7 mile route along Ocean Avenue, Main Street, and Colorado Avenue will be closed to motorized vehicles, to celebrate the opening of Expo.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, about two weeks after Expo phase 2’s May 20 scheduled opening date. The details, including the event’s name, are still being hashed out, according to staff who spoke to Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.’s access, circulation, and parking committee Tuesday morning. Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. is the nonprofit that works with the city to manage services and operations in Santa Monica’s downtown core.

Officials said the event is “a celebration of the arrival of Expo and an opportunity to experience the streets in a new and inviting way without autos.”

Officials are also billing the event as “an opportunity to make new connections with neighbors and the businesses along the route and beyond.”

The theme for the event “is mobility, sustainability and culture and attendees will learn how to access the train without a car and will be encouraged to explore all the city has to offer in the downtown area,” officials said.

Above is a picture of the route. It covers the stretch of Main Street from the city’s southern border (Marine Street) to Colorado Avenue, where it will connect with the Expo light rail station and what will then be the newly completed Colorado Esplanade. There, the route zigzags onto Ocean Avenue, where it connects with the Santa Monica Pier– which will also be closed to motorized vehicles as it usually is during summer weekends–and continues north to Wilshire.

It is a much shorter route than is common among other open streets events like CicLAvia. In fact, it is about half the length of Pasadena’s open streets event last June, which currently holds the record as the shortest such event at 3.5 miles.  Read more…

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L.A. and Santa Monica Finalize Terms For Venice Bike-Share Stations

Hulu and CycleHop are businesses that made Breeze bike-share happen.

Breeze bike-share expansion took a couple of steps forward this week. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee approved terms for five Breeze bike-share stations to be located in the L.A. City neighborhood of Venice. Full details are available in the staff report [PDF] for council file 16-0176.

The Santa Monica City Council approved a similar agreement earlier this week. At that meeting, the Santa Monica City Council approved the five-station expansion into Venice. As part of that decision, the Santa Monica approved adding up to an additional 15 stations in the future. There are still a few more approvals necessary, including the full L.A. City Council and the Coastal Commission, but it appears that Breeze bike-share is on track for welcome near-Santa Monica expansion.

The five planned Venice locations are expected to be:

  • Venice Boulevard at Abbot Kinney Boulevard
  • California Avenue at Abbot Kinney Boulevard
  • Windward Plaza (where Windward Avenue ends at Venice Beach)
  • Ocean Front Walk at Rose Avenue
  • Rose Avenue at 5th Street

These locations may change somewhat as final approvals and permitting processes get underway.

In other L.A. County bike-share news:  Read more…

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Expo to Hit Another Major Milestone Next Week

Expo trains testing in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo via Expo Construction Authority report.

Expo trains testing in Downtown Santa Monica. Photo via Expo Construction Authority report [PDF].

Next week, the Expo Construction Authority — which oversees construction of the Exposition Light Rail project — is anticipating handing over the Phase II right-of-way to Metro, which will begin regular train testing or “pre-revenue” service, according to a report to the Expo Construction Authority Board [PDF]. (Note: An earlier version said the report was the Metro Board. The article has been updated to show that the report was actually made to the Expo Construction Authority Board.).

The Expo bike way in Santa Monica's formerly industrial Bergamot Area. Photo via Expo Construction Authority report.

The Expo bike way in Santa Monica’s formerly industrial Bergamot Area. Photo via Expo Construction Authority report.

The report also says that Expo Phase II will open to Downtown Santa Monica in late April or early May 2016, connecting that beachside city to Culver City, USC, L.A. Trade Tech College, and Downtown L.A.

Recently, the Expo Construction Authority announced that the from December 14 to December 18, it would be conducting headway tests — running trains at normal frequencies– from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As for the Expo bikeway: “Paving, irrigation and lighting systems work is near completion and final inspections are ongoing,” the report says, though there is no mention of whether it will open ahead of the train.

Pre-revenue service is “intended to simulate actual service with trains running on a regular schedule, but with no customers on board,” according to The Source’s description of Expo Phase I’s pre-revenue service test period.  Read more…

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Main Street in Santa Monica Poised to Get 2 Parklets

A parklet on York Blvd. in Highland Park. Photo from People St.

A parklet on York Blvd. in Highland Park. Photo from People St.

Update: The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved three locations for the city’s pilot parklet program. The three locations include the two recommended by staff and a third at Main and Hill in front of Finn McCool’s.

The Santa Monica City Council next Tuesday will consider giving the go-ahead to the beachside city’s first two parklets — small public open-space expansions of the sidewalk that usually replace on-street parking stalls.

If approved by the City Council, the parklet pilot program will begin with two locations on Main Street — one of the city’s most popular commercial districts — and will be a public-private partnership in which the city constructs the parklets and contracts with local businesses for operation and maintenance. The city is proposing the parklets be roughly a block apart with one in front of Holy Guacamole (at Ashland and Main) and the other in front of Ashland Hill, formerly Wildflour Pizza (between Ashland and Hill on Main).

“The pilot would be a public experiment with the Main Street community to temporarily test this new concept in the public realm,” according to the staff report. “The parklet design would be temporary and easily reversible, should the pilot demonstrate the need for design changes.”

As proposed, the parklet pilot program will last a year, “but may end earlier if public safety issues arise,” according to city staff.

“‘Parklets (transforming small urban spaces such as on-street parking stalls into public space and/or landscaping) has become increasingly common across America, but has not yet been authorized in Santa Monica,” according to the staff report. In the report, city officials point to the success of parklet programs in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

A parklet on Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo via People St.

A parklet on Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo via People St.

Los Angeles, through its People St. program, has seen a number of parklets pop up in recent year, including the one on York Street pictured above. In Downtown L.A., there is also a parklet on Spring Street.

“Parklets introduce new streetscape features such as seating, planting, bicycle parking, or elements of play. Parklets encourage pedestrian activity by offering these human-scale ‘eddies in the stream,’ which is especially beneficial in areas that lack sufficient sidewalk width or access to public space,” according to the People St. website. Read more…

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What Can You Get to Riding the Breeze

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Last week, Santa Monica launched Breeze Bike Share, the first public bike-share system in Los Angeles County. To celebrate, more than 100 early subscribers, city staffers, and elected officials went for an inaugural ride in front of City Hall.

Breeze’s 500 bikes, located at 80 hubs around the city and in Venice, mean that residents, visitors, and workers now have a new option to get around the city that is more convenient than driving, especially for short trips. Just how much will Breeze change people’s options for getting around? The potential is pretty big. The above infographic shows just how much of the city a Breeze Bike Share user can cover riding at the modest average speed of 10 miles per hour. You can see a PDF version of the infographic here.

 

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Bike-Share Has Arrived: Santa Monica Breeze Opens!

Santa Monica's Breeze Bike-Share system opened earlier today. Photos by Joe Linton

Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike-Share system opened earlier today. Photos by Joe Linton

The first public bike-share system in Los Angeles County opened today to much fanfare. Santa Monica’s Breeze bike-share features 500 bicycles at 75 stations throughout the city of Santa Monica, plus four in adjacent Venice. The system is run by CycleHop under a contract with the city of Santa Monica. System start-up funding came from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Metro, and Caltrans, plus an annual $675,000 sponsorship for at least five years from the Santa Monica-based entertainment company Hulu. Bicycles are available for rent hourly, monthly, or annually.

Breez bike-share rates - image via Breeze

Breeze bike-share rates – image via Breeze. They are currently offering a $99/year “founding member” rate, as well.

Enjoy the following photo tour of the first morning of L.A. County’s first bike-share system.  Read more…

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Santa Monica Could Tap Hulu as “Presenting Sponsor” for Breeze Bike Share

Update: Hulu bike-share sponsorship was approved by the Santa Monica City Council at its October 13 meeting. 

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The Santa Monica-based online entertainment company, Hulu, may become the “presenting sponsor” of Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike Share, L.A. County’s first public bike-share system.

The City Council will vote tonight (Tuesday) on whether to sign a five-year contract for the media company to sponsor Santa Monica’s new bike-share system, coming fully online next month, to the tune of $675,000 a year.

In exchange for the annual payment, Hulu’s logo would placed on the baskets and skirt guards of Breeze’s 500 bike-share bicycles but the logo can’t be affixed to any of the 80 hubs or bike-share stations, per the City Council’s wishes, according to city staff.

Officials believe that Hulu, as a growing online media company, is an ideal candidate to sponsor the first bike-share system in L.A. County, especially since it is happening in “Silicon Beach.”

“With more than 500 employees in the Santa Monica workforce, Hulu represents the innovative companies that have earned Santa Monica its ‘Silicon Beach’ moniker,” according to the staff report. “As such, Hulu’s profile allies with the City’s 21st century objectives for the City’s bike share enterprise, which will introduce technologically superior ‘smart bikes’ into the Los Angeles region.”

As of press time, Hulu officials could not be reached for comment.

Breeze uses a “smart-bike” system instead of a “smart-hub” system, which means that the main computer is built in to the bike rather than in the stationary hub. That gives riders the freedom to tether the bike nearby if a hub is full rather than seeking out another hub with open slots.

When the City Council approved a contract with CycleHop last November, the Council also directed staff to seek out a possible corporate sponsor for a minimum $250,000 annual sponsorship.

Hulu’s contribution goes above and beyond the base amount sought by the Council. Hulu’s sponsorship won’t change the existing fee structure, at least for now, according to city officials.

“Our structure is still very competitive in the market, but we will keep an eye on it,” officials said. “First priority would be to determine a stronger income-qualified program similar to Chicago or Philadelphia.”

Read more…

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Reps Pelosi and Lieu Tout ‘Grow America’ Transportation Bill

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi speaking on federal transportation funding at this morning's event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi speaking on federal transportation funding at this morning’s event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Elected officials, labor leaders, and Metro’s CEO assembled this morning to call on Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. In order to highlight the ways that transportation infrastructure funding benefits communities, the press event showcased the bluff-top construction site of the city of Santa Monica’s California Incline retrofit project.

House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, Representative Ted Lieu, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, AFL CIO Executive Secretary Rusty Hicks, ‎Building and Construction Trades Council President Ron Miller, and Metro CEO Phil Washington all expressed support for the Grow America Act.

Many Americans think that gas taxes cover the costs of transportation infrastructure. In truth, gas taxes have not kept up with inflation. For many years, transportation-dedicated revenue has fallen way short of transportation expenditures.

This has resulted in ongoing debates over how to pay for transportation infrastructure. The Grow America Act is President Obama’s proposal, favored by Democrats. Grow America would pay for six years of federal transportation funding by closing loopholes that allow American corporations to skirt taxes on overseas profits. Republicans are less interested in trimming corporate profits, and more inclined to fund transportation by trimming pensions. Today, Pelosi characterized the plan to trim pension funding as “a non-starter” and, in response to questions, expressed her support for raising the gas tax, though that too is likely a non-starter.

Though Lieu and Pelosi are pressing for the six-year Grow America Act, this week the House of Representatives passed its stopgap five-month measure that would keep federal transportation funds solvent through December 2015. Senate committees are hammering out their likely-longer-term versions.

CEO Washington and Mayor McKeown stressed that short term funding is not enough for local cities and agencies Read more…

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“An Exemplary Model”: An Interview with Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, Part III

City Manager Rick Cole talks about his new job on CityTV.

City Manager Rick Cole talks about his new job on Santa Monica’s CityTV.

Santa Monica Next sat down to talk with Rick Cole, who took the reins as Santa Monica’s city manager on June 29 after leaving his post at L.A. City Hall as deputy mayor in charge of budget and innovation. The Pasadena native and 30-year veteran of local and regional politics spoke with us about his goals at his new position in Santa Monica. This is part three of a three-part interview. Click here for Part I: “A City on the Beach” and here for Part II: “Courage, Tenacity, and Imagination”

Santa Monica Next: Your predecessor, Rod Gould, when we interviewed him before he retired, he spoke about what he saw as a challenge in Santa Monica: what he called the “politics of abundance.” Many of the arguments in the city were because Santa Monica has so much and could say no to investment where other communities who don’t have those resources wouldn’t see as much controversy over these issues. Do you feel that this abundance of resources is a double-edged sword?

Rick Cole: I think that unfortunately, that came off as something of a complaint. And, I understand the frustration that Rod seemed to express with that observation. I experienced it in my own household because, like most parents, I have done everything I can to spare my children the rigors of my own childhood and to give them the benefits of every opportunity to enrich their lives that I could have possibly sacrificed to afford.

Inevitably, they take for granted those advantages and they assume that a certain level of material comfort is their birthright. But, what an extraordinary privilege it is for us to have these resources. As John Kennedy once said long ago, speaking personally as well as for the country, “To those whom much is given, much is asked.”

I think that’s an exciting part of Santa Monica: the opportunity for us to be models of utilizing the enormous benefits that we have in this time and this place to show a responsible way of stewarding them for future generations and for those who don’t have those same advantages.

That’s certainly what I’ve tried to model for my three teenagers. You know, with all its challenges, it’s incredibly rewarding. If we look around the world, if the city of Santa Monica, with all of our educational and financial resources, can’t be an exemplary model, then what hope is there for Jakarta or Johannesburg or Manila or Kinshasa or, for that matter, Shanghai and Shenzen?

It’s an enormous privilege, I think, to be given, in my faith tradition, from the hand of God, health and material advantages that we can put to the service of others in greater need. It’s a remarkable time to be alive and if we want our great grandchildren to have those same benefits and privileges, then we have to work very hard to lay that foundation.

SMN: One last question. Where do you fit into all of this in Santa Monica? Have you thought about what you want your legacy to be?  Read more…