re: Main Street Closures Pilot Program
June 8, 2021
Re: Item 7A - Main Street Closures Pilot Program
Dear Mayor Himmelrich, Mayor Pro Tempore McCowan and City Councilmembers,
Santa Monica Forward strongly supports the recommendation brought forward by staff in Item 7A to implement a pilot program for summer weekend street closures. We believe that opening our streets more to pedestrians is good for the community and local businesses, helps in the fight against climate change and helps locals build on the sense of community we developed during COVID.
Reclaiming our streets from cars We want Santa Monica to be a great place for residents, workers, and visitors of all ages to safely walk, bike, and scoot. Ask anyone to list their favorite cities, and you are unlikely to hear the name of a city that has prioritized the car. Instead, we prefer cities that allow for slower and more sustainable transportation. This is more than just anecdote, a 2020 paper by Luca Bertolini surveyed the literature on the impacts of similar street transition projects, and found resoundingly positive results. As an example, below are the findings from NYC’s famous “Pavement to Plazas” project.
While the car is unlikely to disappear in the near future, it’s interesting to note that prioritizing people over cars, can actually make the experience of driving in a city better! By encouraging more people to get out of their cars and explore the city, that leaves less traffic on our streets for those choosing to drive. Sharing our streets, even for a couple of days a year, is a good start to a less car-centric future.
Lastly, as we come out of the pandemic, finding creative ways to support local business and provide more outdoor experiences is critical to our economic recovery. Supporting this pilot is good for our local merchants as this will give them a chance to drive increased revenue. Closing a couple of blocks will also help merchants who are outside the pilot zone as we expect it will draw more people to Main St in general. The proposal before you can both help address the current challenges of our post-pandemic recovery, and also lead to a safer and more sustainable Santa Monica.
In the near future, we hope that similar programs will be explored in other parts of our community, so that all Santa Monicans can have access to pedestrian-oriented open streets in their neighborhoods.
Please vote “yes” on 7A.
Co-chair, Santa Monica Forward Co-chair, Santa Monica Forward