One of the sub-rifts I’ve observed within the debates and backlashes against development in Santa Monica reflects the diverging views within environmentally conscience minds about balancing localized and broader impacts. There are people who have advocated for environmental initiatives of various kinds their entire life, who I fundamentally clash with despite also considering myself a passionate advocate environmental protection. We’re seeing the same issues with completely different lenses.
In what I am going to refer to as a slow or no growth locally perspective, to add development intensity of any kind here is to further potentially increase the impact of Santa Monica. This impact is a net negative, and one perceived to be associated with a linear increase in more vehicle traffic or other negative consequences.
Anchoring around walkable areas tied to transit investments already under construction, is lower impact and more sustainable (ecologically speaking and financially) than having the investment capital for development flow outward. Adding transit oriented development as non-linear, and facilitating more walkable and bikeable distances between a greater number of potential homes and businesses with the potential for longer trips by transit made more convenient. A shift away from automobile dependency and centrism is an imperative.
Within the realm of choices Santa Monica can make for itself, allowing for more transit oriented development near our already under construction electric light rail line connecting us to Downtown Los Angeles, is one of the best things we can do to enable lower energy use per capita for more people, maintain strong city finances, and address some of the supply side of the forces making the city less affordable and accessible. People living in Santa Monica along the Expo Line corridor already have shorter commute times than most places in the region, I’m guessing in part because so many jobs already exist within that area (my own 10 minute daily bike commute fits completely within that light pink slice).
Our ideal climate also reduces household energy demand significantly. As of this writing, Burbank just set a new record high of 103 degrees. Santa Monica was in the low 70′s and upper 60′s during the same part of the day, wrapped in that natural air conditioning we call the marine layer. Given a choice of adding units in Burbank or Santa Monica, units in Santa Monica will by default use less energy without residents even having to think about it. The means to live a lower carbon lifestyle, so long as one can afford the barriers to entry and the capacity exists, is just plain easier in Santa Monica. Read more…